By Jueseppi B.
Gabrielle Christina Victoria “Gabby” Douglas (born December 31, 1995) is an American artistic gymnast. As a member of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team at the 2012 Summer Olympics, she won gold medals in both the individual and team all-around competitions. Douglas is the first African-American and first woman of color in Olympic history to become the individual all-around champion, and the first American gymnast to win gold in both the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympics. She was also a member of the gold-winning U.S. team at the2011 World Championships.
Douglas began training in gymnastics at age six when her older sister, Arielle, convinced their mother to enroll her in gymnastics classes. Douglas began her training under the supervision of coach Dena Walker at Excalibur Gymnastics in Virginia Beach.
When she was eight years old, Douglas won an all-around gymnastics award for her level at the 2004 Virginia State Championships.
|Competitor for United States|
|Pacific Rim Championships|
|Gold||2012 Everett||Uneven Bars|
|U.S. Senior National Championships|
|Gold||2012 St. Louis||Uneven Bars|
|Silver||2012 St. Louis||All-Around|
|Bronze||2011 St. Paul||Uneven Bars|
|Bronze||2012 St. Louis||Floor Exercise|
At the 2010 U.S. Junior National Championships, Douglas won the silver medal on balance beam, placed fourth all-around and on vault, and tied for eighth on floor exercise.
Douglas moved from Virginia Beach, Virginia to West Des Moines, Iowa in October at the age of 14 to train under Liang Chow, the former coach of 2008 Summer Olympics gold medal-winner Shawn Johnson. Douglas stayed and was home schooled by a host family. Although Walker later stated in 2012 that she was convinced Douglas could have made it to the Olympics if she had remained in Virginia Beach, Douglas stated: “Something clicked in my head that said, if I really want to make this happen I need to get better coaching.”
The impetus for the move was that Walker had invited Chow to teach at a clinic at her gym.Douglas was impressed when Chow was able to teach her how to perform the Amanar vault in a single afternoon. Douglas considered a move to Texas to train with a renowned coach there, but after that coach declined to train her out of loyalty to Walker, Douglas selected Chow. Chow was initially skeptical, since Douglas had been just one of hundreds of kids at the clinic in Virginia Beach. However, after calling Excalibur to give them a heads-up as to what Douglas was doing, he agreed to train her.
At the City of Jesolo Trophy in Italy, Douglas won a share of the U.S. team gold medal. She also placed second on floor, tied for third on beam, and placed fourth in the all-around and on vault.
At the AT&T American Cup at Madison Square Garden in March, Douglas received the highest total all-around score in the women’s competition, ahead of her teammate and current world champion Jordyn Wieber. However, her scores did not count towards winning the competition because she was an alternate.
At the 2012 U.S. National Championships in June, Douglas won the gold medal in uneven bars, silver in the all-around, and bronze in floor. Martha Karolyi, the National Team Coordinator for USA Gymnastics, nicknamed Douglas the “Flying Squirrel” for her aerial performance on the uneven bars.
After winning a spot on the U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics team, Douglas and her teammates were featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated on the July 18, 2012 Olympic Preview issue. This marked the first time an entire Olympic gymnastics team had been featured on the cover of the magazine. She appeared on Rock Center with Brian Williams on July 19, where she discussed her family background and Olympic ambitions. On July 20, Douglas was featured on one of five Olympic covers released that day for Time magazine.
On July 31, Douglas and her teammates, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross and Jordyn Wieber, won the team all-around gold medal at the2012 Summer Olympics. On August 2, Douglas won the gold medal in the individual all-around, becoming the first African-American woman and first woman of color to win the event. She is also the first American gymnast ever to win both the team and individual all-around gold at the same Olympics.
Douglas is the daughter of Timothy Douglas and Natalie Hawkins. She has three siblings.