At the 2012 Summer Olympics, Olympian Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas won gold medals in the individual all-around and team competitions. She was also a member of the gold-winning American team at the 2011 and the 2015 World Championships, and the all-around silver medalist at the 2015 World Championships. She was part of the Final Five at the 2016 Summer Olympics, where she won gold in the team competition.
Douglas is the first African American or the first of African descent of any nationality in Olympic history to become the individual all-around champions, and the first U.S. gymnast to win gold in both the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympics.
Her journey to started began at the age of eight. That was when Douglas won the Level 4 all-around gymnastics title at the 2004 Virginia State Championships.
At 14, Gabby moved to Des Moines, Iowa, to train full-time with coach Liang Chow. Because her family had to stay in Virginia while her siblings finished school, Gabby lived with Travis and Missy Parton and their four daughters, one of them also trained at Chow’s gym.
Now at age 22, Douglas is growing up. She has a ton of endorsement deals, a TV show, has a Barbie doll in her likeness and more business ventures on the horizon. With all that riding on her shoulders and people depending and expecting a lot from her, it can create a lot of stress. But the way she handles it all is so graceful.
“You can’t worry about who’s watching and ‘What if I mess up?’ because if you do, you’ll mess up,” explains Douglason her website. “My coaches and my support system—like my family and my host family—they just give me encouraging words, and I meditate on those. Coach [Liang] Chow has me do pressure sets, which means everyone in the gym comes and watches me and cheers really loud, so when I go to the competition, I’m used to that atmosphere. At the competition, Chow was like “Just perform, and have fun. Pretend like your teammates are right there judging you. You’re fine. Just take one of the perfect routines you’ve done in training and move it onto the competition floor. Go out there and have fun.”
Douglas is a Christian; she said, “I believe in God. He is the secret of my success. He gives people talent”, and “… I love sharing about my faith. God has given me this amazing God-given talent, so I’m going to go out and glorify His name.”