Trinity Thomas Is ‘In Ha Mood’ On The Mat | A New Wave Of Black Gymnasts Ready To Sweep The Sport

Black women haven’t had much representation in gymnastics, but that seems to be shifting in a positive direction over the past decade.

Fisk University created the first gymnastics team at a HBCU recently, and they have been dominating this season with numerous top-five finishes.

Who Is Gymnast Trinity Thomas?

Now Trinity Thomas is the latest Black woman to make headlines in the gymnastics world. She flawlessly led her second-ranked Florida Gators to a win over the 17th-ranked Georgia Lady Bulldogs on Jan. 27 in a historic finish.

Thomas scored a perfect 10 on the vault and recorded her fourth career gym slam en route to her perfect score. That helped the Gators squeeze a narrow win over Georgia in the dual meet and remain undefeated.

History of Black Gymnastics 

Before 1980, no Black woman qualified with enough points to make the U.S. Gymnastics Olympic team.

Luci Collins 

Luci Collins broke through those barriers in 1980 at the age of 16 years old.

The California native had her dreams crushed when the U.S. government decided to boycott the Moscow Olympic Games. She was never able to officially compete in the Olympics after her career was cut short due to an injury.

Dianne Durham

In 1981, Dianne Durham emerged as a major competitor after winning the junior elite title in back-to-back years. Durham became the first black woman to win the all-around title at the 1983 U.S. Gymnastics National Championships.

Afterward, she had a knee injury that slightly put her career on hold. Then, in 1984 she withdrew from the U.S. Olympics Competition Team. She went on to become a judge and a coach.

Dione Foster 

The 1990s ushered in a wave of new young Black gymnasts. Dione Foster became the first elite gymnast from Alabama at the age of 13. She went on to help the University of Alabama capture the 1991 NCAA Gymnastic Championship.

Betty Okino

Betty Okino burst onto the scene in 1990 after she brought home the gold medal in the balance beam and silver medal in the all-around category at the U.S. National Championships. She continued to make history when she was the first Black woman to bring home multiple world championships medals with two silvers and one bronze. In 1992, she brought home the team bronze medal at the Barcelona Olympics.

Dominique Dawes, aka “Awesome Dawesome,” placed third in the all-around junior division at the 1990 U.S. National Championships. In 1992, she wowed the world at the USA versus Japan meet when she scored a perfect 10 with her tumbling skills. Dawes earned four medals at the 1992, 1996, and 2000 Olympics. She became the first Black woman to win individual medals and gold medal for gymnastics at the Olympics.


The trail cooled down a bit for Black women, but Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas broke through in 2010 to put the world on notice that Black women can still dominate the sport. Douglas brought home the gold medal in the uneven bars category at the Pan American Championships and a team gold medal as well that year.

In 2011, she continued her dominance by bringing home another gold team medal at the 2011 Tokyo World Championships. Douglas saw her most dominant year in 2012 when she won gold for uneven bars and team gold at the Pacific Rim Championships.

Gabby Douglas Is Chasing Gold In Real Time


She followed up that performance at the London Olympic games when she brought home gold for the team and all-around with “The Fierce Five.” Douglas then brought home gold at the 2016 Olympic Games for the team in Rio De Janeiro.

Last, but certainly not least, Simone Biles blew the competition away with her record-setting 30 medals she won in the Olympics and World Championships.

State of Gymnastics Today

In 2022, three Black women claimed the top spots at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Tampa, Florida. Konnor McClain, Shilese Jones, and Jordan Chiles became the first Black women to sweep the podium.

For The First Time In History, Black Women Finish 1-2-3 At U.S. Gymnastics Championships


McClain won gold medal on the balance beam and top all-around ranking at just 17. Jones, 20, came in second, and 21-year-old Chiles came in third.

According to AP News, in 2020 Black women accounted for nearly 10 percent of scholarships at the NCAA Division I level, which was an increase from 7 percent in 2012. Also, more than 10 percent of USA Gymnastics membership self-identify as Black. The numbers are slowly rising, but the influence of Black gymnasts like Biles, Thomas, McClain, and many more is having a strong impact on getting more Black girls involved.




Back to top