Dominique Moceanu, the gymnast who won a gold medal at the 1996 Olympics with the rest of the American team, has written a book called Off Balance that portrays her life on the Olympic team as filled with fear more than joy, CBS Sports reports.
Moceanu spoke about her memoir and her experience on the gymnastic team on The Jim Rome Show Thursday.
The general public views Béla Károlyi as a Geppetto-type persona with his 'You can do it' catchphrase, but in truth he's the Teflon Don of USA Gymnastics, Moceanu said on the show. Over the past decade alone, he's made clumsy and insulting statements that have gone unchecked.
Then she stunned Rome when she said, Béla Károlyi makes David Stern look like Stephen Hawking, and added that Béla Károlyi wanted to steal the spotlight from his athletes. She told Rome if a gymnast were injured he made sure to hop onto the floor and carry her out so he would look like a hero in front of the cameras.
It took Moceanu seven years to write the memoir, according to CBS, and inside it she dishes about her domineering coaches -- Béla and Martha Károlyi -- and her father, who used physical punishment when she was training for the Olympics.
I truly loved the sport and I didn't want to let these people drive me away from it because of how they were treating me, Moceanu explained on Rome's show.
My father enforced physical punishment and slapped me right in the face right in front of the Károlyis when they felt I wasn't performing up to their standards, Moceanu added. The summer before the (1996) Olympic Games, they would threaten me -- my coaches, the Károlyis -- they would threaten me in the gym and say, 'I'm going to call your parents. I'm going to call your father.' And I knew exactly what they meant. They kept me in a constant state of fear because I did not want them to call my dad. This fear just took over me.
Moceanu's book and interview is filled with shockers, but the biggest surprise of her life came in 2007, several weeks before she gave birth to her first child. Moceanu found out that she had a legless sister who was given up for adoption, CBS reported.
She called it the shock of my life.
The girl who was given away, Jennifer Bricker, was told the names of her biological parents and sisters when she turned 16, Us Weekly said. Bricker instantly wrote to Moceanu.
The letter explained that Jennifer had always known that she was of Romanian heritage, but that it wasn't until she was turning 16 that her adoptive parents decided to share the details of her birth, Moceanu writes.
I wouldn't shut up about her! Bricker mused in an interview with ABC News. I knew she was Romanian. I knew we looked alike. Her biggest fan!
It's so much fun every time the three of us get together, Bricker continued, speaking of Dominique, 30, and her younger sister Christina, 22. And I can't believe this crazy life is my crazy life. And by crazy, I mean awesome!