Off Balance: A Memoir
Author: Dominique Moceanu
Gymnasts epitomize the short lifespan of an athlete’s career. In the gymnastics world, a gymnast in his or her early twenties is already a veteran.
In the autobiographies of top athletes, we would sometimes see unpleasant childhood stories which are seen to be “inhuman". In order to hone a skill to perfection, one must spend most of his or her childhood repeatedly training that skill. Dominique Moceanu, the author of Off Balance: A Memoir, won an Olympic gold medal in Gymnastics at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics at the age of 14. While other kids could enjoy delicious food whenever they wanted, she could only sneak in a candy bar or two at night because of strict weight controls. It was a childhood lost.
Moceanu was born in Romania during the Iron Curtain period and later immigrated to the United States with her parents, whose high aspirations for her gymnastics career and tutelage under utilitarian coaches meant that Moceanu’s childhood was full of spartan training and bitter experiences. What’s dramatic was that a mysterious letter revealed that she had a sister who was born without legs and idolized her. Moceanu realized that sometimes “truth is stranger than fiction”.
After taking gold at the Olympics, Moceanu met with a series of circumstances that have moulded her extraordinary life, including a public battle with her parents, retirement, and a comeback from retirement. A multilayered memoir that transcends the world of gymnastics, Off Balance gives us food for thought about social issues such as education, family, sports policy and those with disabilities. It is definitely worth reading.