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Memorial services held for Indiana native, Olympic gymnast Dianne Durham

The Indiana native was remembered by several gymnasts including Mary Lou Retton and Simone Biles.
Credit: AP
Dianne Durham of Gary, Ind., eyes the uneven parallel bars as she starts her routine in the women's individual finals of the McDonald's International Gymnastic Championships in Los Angeles, Aug. 29, 1983. Durham won the silver medal in the event but had to withdraw from two others events because of an earlier injury. Durham had previously won the all-around competition Saturday at the Championships. (AP Photo/Lennox McLendon)

GARY, Ind. — Olympic gymnast Dianne Durham, who died earlier this year, was remembered Saturday at memorial services in northwest Indiana as a pioneer.

Durham was the first Black woman to win a USA Gymnastics national championship. Her victory in the all-around at the 1983 national championships as a teenager was the first by a Black woman in the organization’s history.

She died in February in Chicago following a short illness. She was 52.

Several gymnasts spoke in person, virtually and through written messages at the memorial in Gary, Indiana, including Simone Biles. Mourners remembered Durham not only for athleticism but also her style, kindness and compassion, according to The (Northwest Indiana) Times.

Olympic gold medalist Mary Lou Retton called her the “best competition.”

“You are truly missed. Dianne was about living life to the fullest. That’s what she always did,” Retton wrote, according to the newspaper.

Durham was born in Gary in 1968 and started gymnastics at age 4. She attended schools in Gary and later moved to Texas for training.

After her win, she retired from gymnastics in 1985 and became a coach, including at the University of Illinois Chicago.


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