- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 20, 2009

Twists and turns? Dominique Dawes has had plenty of them throughout her life, and she remembers them vividly.

Take the 1996 Olympics, when the Silver Spring native was competing with the U.S. gymnastics team.

“I fell on my best event - the floor exercise,” said Dawes, who won the bronze medal. “I had an opportunity to come back and redeem myself in the finals.

“It’s important to know that you are always going to make mistakes but that I always have to pick myself back up and keep trying.”

The 32-year-old Dawes is taking that same competitive approach to her second career - in television journalism.

The three-time Olympian and former member of the 1996 U.S. gymnastics team’s “Magnificent Seven” is completing a six-week internship with WNBC in New York, learning about behind-the-scenes TV work and editing her own pieces.

“It’s all about setting goals and achieving them,” Dawes said. “When I think back to my 18 years in gymnastics, I walked away with some pretty valuable qualities. Gymnastics taught me a lot about being goal-oriented and working hard. That has definitely helped in New York since the work I am doing is quite challenging.”

Mark Lepselter, president of Maxx Sports Entertainment, said Dawes has qualities that appeal to the television viewer.

“She has a very engaging look to her, and I think that comes from her past life,” said Lepselter, who also represents Tiki Barber, Rodney Harrison and Lawrence Taylor. “She has always been a performer, so I think that comes across when she’s on camera. The folks that give her a chance in the industry see that she is engaging the viewer.”

This is certainly not the first time Dawes has been in front of a camera. Last year, Dawes covered the Beijing Olympics for Yahoo Sports, and she is planning to help with the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Though she has had plenty of familiarity with the spotlight, Dawes felt the internship with WNBC was a necessary step.

“The broadcasting world has changed significantly, and I understand the need and skill set has expanded a great deal,” Dawes said. “I haven’t been trained to operate cameras or write my own script. But with the changes in TV today, having that skill set is considered valuable.”

Dawes, who graduated from Maryland in 2002, also has experience as a spokeswoman for several organizations. From 2004 to 2006, she was president of the Women’s Sports Federation. In addition, she is an outspoken advocate for autism awareness.

And while Dawes has to earn her way in broadcasting, Lepselter thinks she ultimately will succeed.

“She’s not afraid of hard work. She’s done it her whole life,” Lepselter said. “We feel there is a high arc for her careerwise, and we are committed to helping her obtain that.”

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