I’m not using the term “golden girl” lightly when describing South Africa’s most decorated female aerobic gymnast Dominique Mann. Her impressive trophy cabinet and medal collection could rival any high achiever in the sports world, which is quite a feat in a sport that doesn’t receive much funding or publicity in South Africa. There is however a South African gymnastics championship in the country and Mann dominates the aerobic gymnastics categories every time she steps onto the floor.
This year, it wasn’t a surprise to anyone who knows anything about the sport when she scooped gold in the individual section, as well as gold in the Mixed Pairs & Trio sections. She is an asset to her teammates Wilson Mafona and Happy Ledwaba with whom she
represented her country at this year’s Aerobic Gymnastics World Championships in Cancun, Mexico. The trio fared better than any previous South African team and were the top African nation at the Championships.
It makes you wonder what these athletes could achieve if they had more backing from corporate South Africa and the government. One of the lowest points in Mann’s career is when she qualified for the World Games and was denied an opportunity to compete due to politics. We acknowledge that South Africa isn’t a first world country, and therefore can’t afford to pump as much money into our lesser-followed specialist sports, but it’s a terrible pity when our best athletes in green and gold cannot represent us on the world stage for reasons that just don’t compute.
At this year’s African Championships Mann was dethroned as African champion when she won silver in the individual section but the team secured gold in the Mixed Pairs and Trio sections. One of Mann’s career goals is to represent her country at the World Games 2017 in the Mixed Pairs section for Aerobic Gymnastics. Not an impossible feat for a woman who just keeps on impressing, and whose life motto is “The impossible is possible. If you want something badly enough you can achieve it”.
With it being woman’s month, I enquired as to which woman in her life has had the most impact on her career, without hesitation her response was “My mother”. Michelle Mann has always been very involved and supportive of all three of her daughters’ active and demanding lives. “She has been my pillar of strength, my shoulder to cry on, my motivator, my role model and most importantly my number one fan!” says Mann. As a result, all her daughters have thrived in their chosen fields of interest.
Over and above being a world class aerobic gymnast, Mann is also a furious pole vaulter. This year she scooped up a gold medal for Kwa-Zulu Natal at the South African Championships. Her coach Jakes Van Vuuren is extremely technical and dedicated to perfecting her form. Former Aerobic Gymnastics World Champion Gregory Alcan is one Mann’s biggest inspirations.
“He has been both an inspiration and a mentor to me over the years. I have had the privilege of working one on one with
him,” she says proudly. Some of South Africa’s top brands have also recognised her excellence & drive and named her their ambassador, including Mr Price Sport, FutureLife and Oakley. In the very limited free time that Dominique Mann has, she can been seen on stage.
Whether she’s doing back flips in front of thousands of Sharks fans at Growthpoint Kings Park, a big show at Sibaya Casino or a complex routine at an awards ceremony; she will often perform with her closest friends and her sisters as she comes from a family of extremely talented performers. I look forward to seeing what else Golden Girl Mann has in store for us in her bright future.
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