Gabrielle Douglas (December 31st 1995- ) is an American gymnast. She won two gold medals at the 2012 Olympics: team all-around and individual all-around in women’s gymnastics.
The individual all-around is the highest achievement in her field. She is the first black woman and, in fact, the first woman of colour ever to win it. Till now it had been white girls all the way, like Nadia Comăneci in 1976 and Mary Lou Retton in 1984.
Till Douglas the only black American woman to win any sort of Olympic gold medal in women’s gymnastics was Dominque Dawes in 1996. That was for team all-around.
President Obama called Douglas and said:
You just tore it up. I know how hard you worked to get there. Keep at it. Stay cool.
Beyonce and Condoleezza Rice were proud too. Dominique Dawes cried tears of joy.
Kellogg’s lost no time putting her picture on their boxes of Corn Flakes.
But Bob Costas of NBC television (which covers the Olympics for America) said:
While, in light of how far things have come, it’s not that remarkable, it is still worth noting.
Earlier when white teammate Aly Raisman was on the vault NBC said, “That was an AMAZING vault! She’s off to a good start!” But for Douglas it was just, “That wasn’t great … but she’ll take it” – for a near-perfect performance that scored higher!
A few hours after Douglas won the gold she went on the Internet: people on Twitter were complaining about - her hair!
In representing the country at the Olympics she compares herself to her father who is fighting for the country in Afghanistan.
At age three she was doing amazing cartwheels. At seven she was doing such daring tricks off the furniture that her mother sought professional help and got her proper gymnastic training. At eight she saw the 2004 Olympics and knew she wanted to be in it.
At 14 she was placing in the top ten at national events. She had outgrown her coach in her hometown of Virginia Beach, Virginia. She knew that to win at the Olympics she had to go big and go all out. That meant training with Liang Chow who lived over a thousand miles away in Iowa.
Chow liked her courage and determination. He found a host family for her to live with, the Partons. Under his coaching she became like a new person. Now she was placing in the top ten internationally.
But by Christmas 2011 she had become so homesick she wanted to quit and come back home. Her mother said,
Life is not easy. You have to fight and just refuse to quit.
Every morning and every evening her mother sent her Scripture to meditate on. Her faith in God gave her the faith and the confidence to go on.
By early 2012 she was outscoring even the world champion, fellow American Jordyn Wieber.
Thanks to Peanut for suggesting this topic.