U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas made history on Aug. 2 when she became the first African American woman to win the coveted women’s all-around title. Read on for more details!
Gabby Douglas now has two gold medals to show off. The 16-year-old gymnast won the women’s all-around on Aug. 2, adding to the gold medal win with her teammates two days prior.
She is the third straight American to win gymnastics’ biggest prize for women afterCarly Patterson in 2004 and Nastia Liukin in 2008. Gabby, nicknamed “The Flying Squirrel” for her aerial skills on the bars, took the lead during the first event and held strong throughout, finishing with a score of 62.232 — three-tenths ahead of silver medalist Viktoria Komova of Russia.
US gymnast Aly Raisman and Russia’s Aliya Mustafina tied for third, but it was Aliya from Russia who ended up taking the bronze medal, with Gabby’s teammate Aly taking fourth place.
Gabby is the first African American woman to win the Olympic all-around gold. She follows in the footsteps of Dominique Dawes, who, during the 1996 Olympics, became the first black woman of any nationality to win an Olympic gold in gymnastics. After Dominique, an African American hadn’t taken an Olympic gold medal in women’s gymnastics– until Gabby.
Gabby’s victory did not come without sacrifice. She and her three siblings were raised by Natalie Hawkins, a single mom in Virginia Beach, Va. Natalie struggled to pay for gymnastics, selling jewelry to make ends meet. When Gabby wanted to train with Shawn Johnson‘s coach following the 2008 Olympics, Natalie let her stay with a host family in Iowa while she trained. And now Gabby has two gold medals to show for it!
We’re so proud of Gabby! Congrats to her and Team USA!
What do YOU think of Gabby’s win Holly Moms?
If much of the beauty of music is the silence between the notes, the same might be said about raindrops. Douglas has always seen what others don't, the beauty between the raindrops.
It didn't matter that most times she was the only black girl in the gym. She loved what she was doing.
"It was definitely strange. It was so strange," she said. She'd be listening to a rap song and a fellow gymnast wouldn't know the music. "You don't know this song? Oh sorry." And they would say, you don't country?"
Then she added, in that typical teenage voice, "This is awkward."
Still., there were many struggles along the way. Paying for the expensive training and travel that an elite gymnast requires was difficult, especially when Hawkins was on long-term medical disability from a job at a financial services company. Her parents are divorced but Douglas' father Timothy, a reservist in the military who has done tours in Afghanistan, was also gone for long stretches.
But in the end, the sacrifices were all worth it. "I'm so happy for her, so thrilled," Hawkins said as her daughter left the arena with a gold medal around her neck. "I love her and I'm so proud of her."
She said she hopes it will inspire other girls to take chances, to follow their dreams. "I hope they will see that there's no struggle that's too hard," Hawkins said. "There's no difficulty that's too big. … You can strive for your dream no matter what. You have to take those chances. If it works out, great, if not have no regrets."
There were certainly none Thursday. This was her night, her concert. "I just wanted to go on the floor and treat it like the trials," Douglas said. "Just show it off and perform. You have to learn to enjoy and seize the moment."
At 14, Douglas moved away from her family in Virginia Beach to train in Des Moines, Iowa with Chow, who also coached Shawn Johnson, the Olympic silver medalist. Leaving home at such a young age, and adjusting to a new environment and host family was challenging.
In the past, Douglas has been undone by her nerves. Last year at the Visa Championships, Douglas imploded finishing seventh in the all-round. She said that experience helped steeled her for high-stake competitions ahead. “I think I’ve improved so much with the mental situation,” Douglas said before London
“I learned about being a competitor,” Douglas said. “No one is going to feel sorry for you. No one is going to be like, ‘Ooh, you fell.’ This is going to be my chance to shine. You have to go out there and be fierce.”