New York, June 9 : Olympic gold-medallist Dominique Moceanu has spoken out about the shock that she got on discovering at the age of 26 that she had another sister, who had been given up for adoption at birth.
The thrill of winning Olympic gold at age 14 was no match for the shock of a lifetime gymnast Moceanu said that she received a few years ago.
Moceanu, one of the darlings of the famed 1996 Olympic women''s gymnastics team that stole America''s hearts, revealed that she has a long-lost sister who was born without any legs.
"It was the biggest bombshell of my life," the New York Daily News quoted Moceanu, as saying on ABC's "20/20."
The 30-year-old had learned the news two weeks before giving birth to a daughter of her own in 2007.
A package came with photos of a 20-year-old woman and a letter explaining she was her sister who had been adopted as a baby and had just recently learned her birth name.
At the time, Moceanu was estranged from her parents, Dimitry and Camelia Moceanu, from whom she filed for emancipation at age 17.
When she confronted her parents about the woman's story, they admitted to have given the baby up for adoption after learning the girl had a medical problem that they couldn''t afford to treat.
The couple had emigrated to the U. S. from Romania in the early 1980s looking for a better life, and found hope in their older daughter, who from an early age proved to be an exceptionally talented gymnast.
Moceanu won the U. S. National Championships at age 13, in 1995, and the following year became the youngest member on the women's Olympic team.
Now living in Cleveland and married to former gymnast Michael Canales, the former Olympian is sharing the darker parts of her life story - a strained relationship with her father, whom she accuses of stalking and has a restraining order against, hiding injuries and pain for fear of retribution from her coach, and the public humiliation she suffered after falling twice during her Olympic routine.
Since learning of her family's secret, the reunited sisters now meet regularly and delight in the similarities they find, like similar handwriting and a shared love of gymnastics.
"The tones in our voices. The way we laugh and chuckle," Moceanu said.
"It''s mind-blowing," she added. (ANI)