US Olympian Gabrielle Douglass Brings Home the Gold While Making History
Gabby Douglas competing on the beam in the womens all-around final
By: Jonathan Ng
Gabrielle Douglas made history August 2nd as she became the first African American woman to take home the gold for the women’s individual all around gymnastics event.
Winning first place with a total score of 62.232, Douglass clinched victory over her Russian opponents’ runner up Viktoria Komova, who scored 61.973, and third place winner Aliya Mustafina, who scored 59.566.
“It was just an amazing feeling,” she said, giggling. “I was just like, believe, don’t fear, believe”, according online and wire services.
Shattering the world’s expectations, Douglas has not always had the talent and confidence to be an Olympic Champion.
According to her mother, Douglas started gymnastics as a normal 6 year old girl in Virginia that needed a safe place to jump around.
As she grew older, Douglas began to compete in competitions and continuously get better. In 2009, at a local gymnastics clinic in Virginia, Douglass met Coach Liang Chow during a session when he was teaching the Amanar Vault.
During that session, Chow and Douglass clicked very well. Chow saw potential in Douglas’s gymnastic ability and Douglas saw potential in Chow’s teaching.
“Douglas fell in love with his easygoing coaching style” according to wire reports.
The only problem was that Chow lived in Iowa, but Douglas knew that she had to train with Chow if she was to be phenomenal gymnast.
Despite months of trouble Douglas and her two sisters, Joy and Arielle, went through to convince their mother to let Douglas train for the Olympics with Chow, by the year 2010, Douglass showed up in Iowa at the Parton’s (a local family) door for training.
Feelings out of place in Iowa, Douglas was taken in as part of the Parton family. According to online reports “The family tried making her feel at home, giving her free rein of the house, buying her a pool pass, taking her to weddings and eventually teaching her how to drive.”
Not only did she feel out of place because her family was across the country, but she felt that she stood out in public because almost everyone she saw in Iowa was White.
According to nytimes.com, “Douglas noticed right away that she was one of the few black people in town. She was used to standing out. Often, she was the only black gymnast at high-level competitions.”
Eventually with time though, Douglas began to fit in and feel right at home.
At the gym, Douglas showed phenomenal improvement under Chow, competing in a variety of competitions like the Secrets Classic Competition, the Pacific Rim Chamionships, the VISA Chamionships and the American Cup; outscoring Jordyn Wieber, the reigning world champion.
In 2012, Douglas competed in the Olympic Trials and received first place, qualifying for Team USA in the Olympic games.
After going through the various qualifying rounds, Douglass was finally at where she had dreamed.
August first, Douglass competed in the USA Team All Around Gymnastics and helped take the gold with gymnasts Jordyn Wieber, McKayla Maroney, Kyla Ross, and Aly Raisman.
On August second, Douglass competed for the Women’s Individual All Around Gymnastics. With words of encouragement from her mother Natalie Hawkins, Coach Chow, and herself, telling her to believe that it was her time to shine, that’s exactly what she did.
After her performance of winning first place in the Women’s Individual All Around Gymnastics, Douglas shared her thoughts with some news reporters, “A lot was going through my mind, I was like, ’Yes all the hard work has paid off,’” Douglas told reporters after the medal ceremony. “I was speechless. Tears of joy and just waving to the crowd,” according to online news reports.
Many Americans are very proud of Douglass, especially her family, friends, and inner circle.
In winning that medal, not only has Douglass shattered the racial barrier for Black females not being able to perform in gymnastics, broken world records, and touched our hearts, but has inspired many to follow their dreams of becoming who they want to be because they believe in themselves.