Determined Gymnast Makes Olympic History

Posted August 3rd, 2012 at 3:45 pm (UTC-5)
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Gymnast Gabby Douglas has always been determined. That determination pushed Douglas from her East Coast home in Virginia Beach, Virginia, to the Midwestern state of Iowa, and then to the London Olympics. The 16-year-old made history this week, becoming the first African American gold medalist in the individual all-around.

Douglas' tenacity helped convince her mother to allow her to move to Iowa, hundreds of kilometers away, to train for the Olympics. Douglas was 14 years old at the time.

Although Natalie Hawkins was concerned about the big move and only saw her daughter four times in the past two years, she proudly stood in the Olympic arena to watch her youngest child make history on August 2.

Douglas has long dreamed of competing in the Olympics and was inspired by Dominique Dawes, a three-time U.S. Olympic gymnast and the first African American gymnast to win an Olympic medal, back in 1996.

Douglas has credited her drive to the role models in her life, especially her mother. “I think I get this from my mom. She's definitely a go-getter, like if she wants something she'll fight for it, and at the end she'll come up on top and she'll have it.”

The young star began gymnastics training at age three, when her older sister, also a gymnast, taught her to do a cartwheel. By the time she was eight, she had won a Virginia state championship. Douglas' favorite apparatus is the uneven bars, where she flies quickly and lightly through the apparatus. Her skill brought her the nickname the “Flying Squirrel.”

Douglas is a strong athlete who isn't intimidated by the crowd. “I love showing off for the crowd, getting my release so high. I can just hear the gasp. They're just like 'Oh.' And I'm just like, 'I'm just going to catch the bar, guys, like calm down, I got this.' Just seeing their reactions, it's so awesome.”

Gabby Douglas's fame is just beginning. Within hours of her victory, she was on the Kellogg's Corn Flakes cereal box. She could make millions of dollars now by endorsing products.