MEDINA, Ohio — You want your local newsmakers to be open and honest with you, right? Let's be clear, then.
"Let's Be Clear" is all about transparency. WKYC has a clear, mobile newsroom that we're taking across the state over the next few weeks to talk to those making headlines in Ohio. Whether you agree with the guest, disagree, or are a fan of them, we know you have questions.
Click here to watch past episodes of "Let's Be Clear."
Now, we're back with Season 2 and today, we headed to Medina to sit down with former Olympic gold medalist Dominique Moceanu. Moceanu owns the Dominique Moceanu Gymnastics Center featuring Carmen’s Yoga Studio in Medina, which focuses on instructional gymnastics at all levels from non-competitive classes to high-level training.
You can watch the full interview again below:
Moceanu opened up about a variety of topics, including what it was like to win a gold medal at the age of just 14.
"It changed my life forever," she told our Will Ujek. "We were part of something magnificent, not only for the sport of gymnastics but for the landscape of a sport, because we were the first U.S women's team to win Olympic gold."
That was in 1996, and the sport of gymnastics has changed greatly over the last two-plus decades. Specifically, more scrutiny has been placed on some of the treatment the athletes get from their coaches. Moceanu herself was one of the first gymnasts to claim verbal and psychological abuse by famed U.S. coaches Bela and Marta Karolyi, accusations that earned her the ire of many of her peers at the time.
"I was all alone," she said. "My friendships disseminated, I had nobody stepping up, and I'm like, 'You guys know this is happening. Why are you hiding behind it?'
"This is not okay, and I stood out there, and I took the heat, I took the arrows, and I can't tell you how many nasty emails and messages...It was just unbelievable to me how these people could attack me so rigorously when they had no idea what was going on at the gym."
USA Gymnastics has since cut ties to the Karolyi Ranch after it was learned many of the separate sexual abuses by former team doctor Larry Nassar took place there (the Karolyis have not been directly implicated in that scandal). Due to her past of speaking up about her own experiences, Moceanu soon found herself as a source of counsel for several of Nassar's victims, urging them to report their experiences.
"I said, 'If he did it to you guys, he did it to others,'" she remembered. "I was emotionally drained every night for a while, because I kept on helping and talking to people. It just took every ounce of my strength, but I did something good, and I did something good for them, and I think had Jamie [Dantzscher] not [come forward], this Nassar story might not have come out in the way it did."
Regarding her own past, Moceanu says her own self-esteem was so low regarding the sport that she refused to even follow it for many years before being encouraged to get back into it by her husband Michael. Now with her own gymnastics center, she is working to foster a happier environment for her students than the one she experienced as a child.
"They need to walk away with higher self-esteem and people who believe in them, not treat them like they're garbage," she said, adding that many of her current students came from bad gym environments. "If they're finding another place that's better for them, then you know what? That's where they need to be.