Durham, Dianne (1968—)

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Durham, Dianne (1968—)

African-American gymnast. Born in Gary, Indiana, in June 1968. First African-American gymnast to become a national champion.

Dianne Durham saw her career cut short by injury. One of America's best gymnasts, she began taking gymnastics at a local Y when she was four years old. By 1981, Durham was the junior elite champion, a title she would successfully defend in 1982. In 1983, at her first senior national championship, she became the first African-American to win a national gymnastics competition, earning the gold medal in all-around, balance beam, vault, and floor exercises; she tied for a silver medal in the uneven bars. That year, Durham also won a silver in the McDonald's International Championships.

She had planned to enter the 1983 World Championships, but surgery on an injured knee prevented her. Durham was back in December, competing in the Chunichi Cup competition in Japan where she finished third all-around. Her knee, however, continued to bother her during the 1984 American Cup meet, and later that spring she left coach Bela Karolyi. A strong contender for the 1984 U.S. Olympic team, Durham had to withdraw due to a further injury.

Karin Loewen Haag , Athens, Georgia