Gymnast Dominique Moceanu Gets Married
The 1996 gold medalist marries her longtime beau, Michael Canales, in Houston
Dominique Moceanu, who won a gold medal at the 1996 summer Olympics as part of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team dubbed the Magnificent Seven, wed longtime beau Michael Canales in her hometown of Houston on Saturday afternoon.
Three of her Olympic teammates – Amanda Borden, Dominique Dawes and Kerri Strug, a bridesmaid – were among the 175 wedding guests, along with Olympic greats Paul and Morgan Hamm, Bart Conner and Nadia Comaneci.
“This is the best day of my life!” a gleeful Moceanu told PEOPLE following the traditional Romanian Orthodox service, which was presided over by three bearded clerics. “I’m marrying the best person for me.”
Moceanu, 25, and Canales, 29, a former nationally ranked collegiate gymnast who is now a resident in podiatric surgery in Cleveland, started dating in 2001.
They first met in 1994 at the Junior National Championships when she was a precocious 12-year-old star. They became a couple after meeting again years later, and Canales served as her coach as she trained last year for a planned return to competition.
The American-born daughter of Romanian immigrants, Moceanu started gymnastics at 3 1/2. She later worked with the legendary Bela Karolyi, who had coached Comaneci and Mary Lou Retton.
In 1996, Moceanu was the youngest member of the Magnificent Seven, which along with Borden, Dawes and Strug also included Jaycie Phelps, Amy Chow and Shannon Miller.
She made headlines in 1998 when she became legally emancipated from her parents, Dmitry and Camelia, in a dispute over control of her finances. The family later made up, and a beaming Dmitry escorted his daughter down the aisle on Saturday.
Conner and Comaneci, who have been married for 10 years and welcomed their first child in June, served as honorary godparents for the newlyweds.
Moceanu, who did most of the wedding planning herself, wore an off-the-rack strapless satin dress from Oleg Cassini, while her bridesmaids were clad in plum-colored satin sheaths and stoles. Canales wore a white tie and tails with white gloves.
Sunday morning, after an early breakfast with their parents, the couple departed for a weeklong cruise in the Caribbean.