Olympian Dominique Dawes doesn't care for these three words: The Flying Squirrel.
That's the nickname given to U.S. Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas, but don't expect to hear it from Dawes this weekend if she does commentary on FoxSports.com. Dawes is entertaining other possible Douglas nicknames at @dominiquedawes, her Twitter account.
Dawes was in the metro recently making appearances for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Twin Cities and for Hormel Natural Choice. "Teamed up with Hormel Natural Choice to promote their Raising Little Champions program," Dawes told me when we met at Fox 9. "It's all about encouraging moms to feed their little champions with the fuel that's going to help them succeed in whatever they choose. Be an athlete, pursue the arts, academics. Make sure their kids get great nutrition. [Moms] are role models in the kitchen and they can make a difference in their child's overall physical health. It's all natural, no preservatives. Food your kids will enjoy." She was delighted to be in the home state of her favorite singer, but that's probably not why she did a cartwheel on my startribune.com/video.
Q What's your favorite Prince song?
A I was in his music video "Betcha By Golly Wow." He called my hotel room in 1996, asked me to be a part of his video. I said "yes" right away, because I've always loved his music. I would have to say "Purple Rain," "1999" are definitely my favorites by him.
Q Which one of these Hormel Natural Choice meats you're promoting is your favorite?
A My favorite is definitely the pepper turkey.
Q What's your most creative preparation of Spam?
A You know when I was little I actually did eat Spam. I don't know about a creative preparation but I remember putting mustard in it. Does that make sense? A lot of people would add mayo and I'm not a big mayo fan. So I would add yellow mustard to my sandwich. I don't eat it that much anymore.
Q Is this being a black person in an elite sport that's mostly white an over-asked question?
A I don't think it's ever overdone. The sport of gymnastics is still primarily a white sport though if you look at these young girls preparing for the London Olympic Games, we have a young African-American gymnast in Gabby Douglas, who's leading the way. She won the Olympic trials. She's someone that when you watch her do gymnastics you have to jump out of your seat. You have to applaud. I'm doing work now for FoxSports.com. I was at the Olympic trials, I'm in the media section and, you know, you're not supposed to show a bias or favoritism at all and I was jumping out of my seat watching this young, little girl. She's been a nice leader on the floor but during my '96 Olympics team there was myself and a Romanian-American, Dominique Moceanu, and Asian-American in Amy Chow. We've had diversity in the sport. It just needs to be recognized more.
Q Do you call Gabby "The Flying Squirrel"?
A I do not, and I do not like that nickname. I will be honest with you, I do not like that nickname. I'm going to call her "Doin' It Douglas," "Wowing It Douglas." I am trying my hardest to come up with a nickname that's going to stick. She does fly on the uneven bars, she wows the crowd, you jump out of your seat. Maybe you can be creative and come up a good nickname. I don't know if she does [or doesn't like the nickname] but I'll tell you what I feel about it. It's a nickname but I think there are others that better describe her talent. Why don't we collaborate? We'll tweet about it.
Q Do you own a Maryland gymnastics studio?
A No, everyone thinks I do. I have not done it yet but I think when I get married, and I hope to have four boys. I know that means I'm going to be working really hard -- this mom over here is laughing at me. I think that's when I may want to open a fitness or gymnastics-type facility for young kids, moms, dads to participate in activities with their kids. But I have not done it yet at 35 because I like the freedom of my schedule right now.
Q You're hoping your children won't take up some sport that requires you to get up at 4 a.m.?
A My niece is becoming a swimmer and she has swim meets at 7 in the morning and that's pretty tough. My mom would get up and take me to practice. I do appreciate all that she did for me and also my dad did for me, but I'm praying my kid does not want to be a swimmer or gymnast or figure skater or hockey player where they have to get up at the crack of dawn. We like soccer.
Q Did you see any wild parties when you were in the Olympic Village in 1996?
A No, I did not. Number one: I was not in the Olympic Village in 1996; I only stayed in the Olympic Village in 1992 and anyone [who] remembers me at 15 years old realizes I looked like I was 10 years old. At those Olympic Games me and my teammates were on the playground. We were on the swing-set every day. Very innocent. Then I was in the physical therapy lab. And every day Charles Barkley was there. He loves talking. I got a lot of information about Charles Barkley. And so I was listening to him and that was entertaining. I remember meeting the Dream Team and taking photos with those guys. But I really didn't see parties. I was oblivious. I was in awe of the whole experience. In '96 and 2000 we didn't stay in the Olympic Village because we wanted to focus.
Q The Hope Solo story made me wonder if it'll be difficult for Lolo Jones to maintain her virginity in the Olympic Village.
A Oh, goodness. I definitely commend Lolo. And Hope, she might be chatting right now but once the Olympic Games begin, it's going to be all about winning gold for her team. I think if they don't win gold they'll be quite disappointed.
Q I love the name Dominique. It's unisexual, it's French. I love the normal spelling because our people sometimes give their children unique names with unnecessarily unique spellings. Is there another name you like as much as Dominique?
A I love Dominique because it means "daughter of God." And it is the name my mom and dad gave me. It's Dominique Margaux, another French name, and I don't have a drop of French blood in me. I have Irish, German, black and Native American but no French whatsoever. Another name I do like is Daniela. I was a huge fan of Daniela Silivas, a Romanian gymnast. Amazing. She did an up-and-back tumbling pass like I did in the 1992 Olympic Games, where I did nearly 10 flips in a row. So if I have a daughter, I would love to name her Daniela or a son possibly Daniel.
C.J. can be reached at email@example.com and seen on Fox 9.