Gabby Douglas

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Gabby Douglas
— Gymnast —
Douglas throwing out the first pitch at Citi Field, August 2012
Personal information
Full name Gabrielle Christina Victoria Douglas
Nickname(s) Flying Squirrel
Country represented United States United States
Born (1995-12-31) December 31, 1995 (age 23)
Newport News, Virginia[1]
Residence Columbus, Ohio
Height 5 ft 2.5 in (1.588 m)[2]
Discipline Women's artistic gymnastics
Level Senior International Elite
Years on national team 2008–2012, 2014–present (US)
Gym Buckeye Gymnastics[3]
Head coach(es) Kittia Carpenter
Assistant coach(es) Christian Gallardo
Former coach(es) Dena Walker, Gustavo Moure, Liang Chow
Music Here

Gabrielle Christina Victoria "Gabby" Douglas[4] (born December 31, 1995)[5] is an American artistic gymnast. She was a member of the United States women's national gymnastics team, dubbed the Fierce Five by the media, at the 2012 Summer Olympics, where she 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,[6] and the all-around silver medallist at the 2015 World Championships.[7]

Gabby Douglas is the first African American woman in Olympic history to become the individual all-around champion,[8][9] and the first American gymnast to win gold in both the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympics as well as being the only American all-around champion to win multiple gold medals in a single Olympic Games. She is also the first female reigning Olympic all-around champion to return to the World Championships and medal in the all-around since Elena Davydova in 1981. (Andreea Raducan medaled at the 2001 World Championships after initially winning the Olympic all-around title in 2000, but her Olympic title was removed days later after she tested positive for banned substances.) Douglas is also the reigning AT&T American Cup all-around champion.

As a public figure, Douglas' gymnastics successes have led to her life story adaptation in the 2014 Lifetime biopic film, The Gabby Douglas Story,[10] as well the acquisition of her own reality television series, Douglas Family Gold.[11]

Early life

Douglas was born in Virginia Beach, Virginia to parents Timothy Douglas and Natalie Hawkins.[12] She has three siblings. Including an older sister named Arielle.[13] She began training in gymnastics at age six when her older sister convinced their mother to enroll her in gymnastics classes.[14] In October 2002, Douglas began her training at Gymstrada.[15]

At the age of eight, Douglas won the Level 4 all-around gymnastics title at the 2004 Virginia State Championships.[16][17]

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 whom also trained at Chow's gym.[18]

Douglas is a Christian; she said, "I believe in God. He is the secret of my success. He gives people talent",[19] 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."[20]

Junior career


Douglas made her national debut in 2008 at the US Classic in Houston, Texas, where she placed 10th in the all-around rankings. She went on to compete at the 2008 Visa Championships in Boston, Massachusetts. Placing 16th[21] in that competition, Douglas was not eligible for the 2008 Junior Women's National Team.[22]


In 2009, Douglas suffered a fracture in the growth plate of her wrist. Due to this injury, she was largely unable to compete and missed the 2009 CoverGirl US Classic. While she competed at the 2009 Visa Championships in Dallas, Texas, Douglas was unable to perform her full routines and competed only on balance beam and floor exercise.[22]


Douglas competed at the 2010 Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup, a televised Level 10 meet held in Worcester, Massachusetts, where Douglas placed fourth all-around.[5]

Her first elite meet was the 2010 Cover Girl Classic in Chicago, Illinois, where Douglas placed third on balance beam, 6th on vault, and 9th all-around in the junior division.[5]

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.[5]

At the 2010 Pan American Championships in Guadalajara, Mexico, Douglas won the uneven bars title, and she won a share of the U.S. team gold medal. She also placed fifth all-around.[5]

In October, at age 14, Douglas moved from Virginia Beach to West Des Moines, Iowa, to train under Liang Chow, the former coach of 2007 World Champion and 2008 Summer Olympics gold medalist Shawn Johnson.[13][23][24] Although Douglas' former coach, Walker, stated in 2012 that she was convinced Douglas could have made it to the Olympics if she had remained in Virginia Beach, Douglas said, "Something clicked in my head that said, if I really want to make this happen I need to get better coaching."[15] The impetus for Douglas's move to Iowa was when Walker had invited Chow to teach a clinic at her gym, Excalibur.[15] Douglas was impressed when Chow was able to teach her how to perform the Amanar vault in a single afternoon.[8] 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.[25] Chow was initially skeptical, since Douglas had been just one of hundreds of kids at the clinic in Virginia Beach.[15] However, Chow subsequently informed Douglas's Excalibur coaches that he had agreed to train her, but pointed out that he did not recruit her, saying, "I would never recruit anybody to my program." Later on, Gabby suffered from a hamstring strain and a hip flexor injury in July. She couldn't do much during this time, but this allowed her to improve her bar skills.[25]

Senior career


At the City of Jesolo Trophy in Italy, Gabby was part of the US team that won gold. She also placed second on floor, tied for third on beam, and placed fourth in the all-around and on vault.[5]

Douglas earned the silver medal in uneven bars at the CoverGirl Classic in Chicago.[5]

At the 2011 U.S. National Championships in St. Paul, Minnesota, Douglas tied for third on bars and placed seventh all-around.[5]

At the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo, Japan, Douglas shared in the team gold medal won by the U.S. Douglas also placed fifth in uneven bars.[26][27]


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.[28]

Later in March, she was part of the gold-winning U.S. team at the Pacific Rim Championships, where she also won gold in uneven bars.[28][29]

Douglas at the Secret U.S. Classic in 2012

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. Márta Károlyi, the National Team Coordinator for USA Gymnastics, nicknamed Douglas the "Flying Squirrel" for her aerial performance on the uneven bars.[30][31][32]

At the 2012 Olympic Trials held in San Jose, California, on July 1, Douglas placed first in the all-around rankings, securing the only guaranteed spot on the women's Olympic gymnastic team.

Douglas and her teammates, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross, and Jordyn Wieber (nicknamed the "Fierce Five"), won the team all-around gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics.[33][34] Douglas was the only gymnast on the team to compete in all four disciplines (vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise) during the qualifying round and during the finals of the team competition. She then won the gold medal in the individual all-around, becoming the first African-American woman, as well as the first woman of color of any nationality, to win the event.[9][35][36][37] She is also the first American gymnast ever to win both the team and individual all-around gold at the same Olympics.[38] Douglas finished eighth in uneven bars,[39][40] and seventh in balance beam.[41] She is the first all-around champion to fail to medal in an individual event since women's gymnastics was added to the Olympics in 1952.[42]


In August 2013, Douglas moved to Los Angeles to be with her family. Although she was no longer training with Chow, she said that she was still preparing to compete in the 2016 Olympics.[43]

In mid-April 2014, Douglas returned to Iowa to train once more with Coach Chow, in an attempt to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Chow and his wife were delighted to have Gabby return to the Iowa gym, which they had not expected she would after her departure to Los Angeles in summer 2013. Gabby was to have trained alongside national team member Rachel Gowey (Sr.) and promising junior Norah Flatley, who many consider similar to both Gabby and Shawn in performance style.[44]

In mid-July, it was announced that Douglas had once again left Chow's Gymnastics & Dance Institute.[45] She remained in the market for a new coach until the beginning of August, when news broke that Douglas would train under Kittia Carpenter at Buckeye Gymnastics in Westerville, OH. Nia Dennis, national team member, also trained at Buckeye at the time. Carpenter announced that Douglas would not aim to return to competition at the 2014 national championships, as previously planned, but would instead train with a goal of returning in time for Worlds 2015. The stated reasoning for Douglas's delay is that she wishes to return as strong - or stronger - as when she left. National Team Coordinator Marta Karolyi, who expressed satisfaction and some surprise with Douglas's physical condition at her first two national team training camps back (while she was once again working with Chow), commented on Douglas's planned comeback in OH, "My wish is that she will be consistent in her training. And if that's what she will do, I think she will be fine. But if she jumps up and down and left and right, it will be much harder."[46]

After participating in several national team camps in 2014, on November 25, 2014, Douglas was added back to the U.S. national team, along with Olympic teammate Aly Raisman and former Chow's Gymnastics teammate Rachel Gowey.[47]


In March 2015, Douglas returned to international competition at the 2015 City of Jesolo Trophy in Jesolo, Italy. Douglas helped the USA win gold in the team competition and also placed 4th all-around behind defending World Champion, Simone Biles, newcomer Bailie Key and Olympic teammate Aly Raisman.

In July, Douglas competed at the U.S. Classic and finished second in the all-around behind 2-time World All-Around Champion Simone Biles and ahead of Maggie Nichols with a score of 60.500. She had a consistent night hitting clean routines. She placed second on uneven bars behind Madison Kocian and ahead of Bailie Key with a score of 15.400, third on balance beam behind Biles and Olympic teammate Aly Raisman with a score of 14.900, and second on floor exercise behind Biles and ahead of Key and Nichols with a score of 15.000.[48]

On August 13 & 15, Douglas competed at the P&G Championships Indianapolis, Indiana where she placed 5th overall with a score of 117.950, placing behind Simone Biles, Maggie Nichols, Aly Raisman, and Bailie Key.

Douglas started Night 1 on vault and despite a hop backwards on her double-twisting Yurchenko vault, she scored a 15.150. On bars, she had a high-flying piked Tkachev connected to her Pak Salto and had an excellent landing on her double layout dismount. She scored a 15.300 on bars. On beam she had a shaky routine with balance checks but did score a 14.450. On floor she had bad wobbles on her double Y-turn and her double turn with leg at horizontal (then didn't connect to her single turn with leg at horizontal). She had low landings and almost fell on her tucked full-in and scored a 13.850 to end Night 1 in 3rd with a total all-around score of 58.700.

On Night 2, Douglas started on bars where she excelled once again on her inbar-stalder pirouettes and her piked Tkachev-Pak Salto connection but she took a large step forward on her double layout dismount and almost fell. She scored a 15.100. Her total bars score of 30.400 placed her 4th on the event behind Madison Kocian, Ashton Locklear and Key (by 0.100). On beam she had a shaky routine and had a good number of balance checks and lost some connections. She had a hop and a low landing on her double pike dismount where she scored a 14.200, totaling her score to 28.650 placed her 9th on the event, 0.050 behimd Raisman and Mykayla Skinner. On floor she improved her turns and connections and had better landings on her tumbling passes. She scored a 14.800 and totaled her score to 28.650, placing her 6th on the event.

Douglas was named to the Senior National Team for the first time since 2012 and received an invite to the 2015 Worlds Selection Camp in September. On October 8, 2015 it was announced that Douglas had been selected as a member of the 2015 US Women's World Championship team.[49]

At the 2015 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, Douglas shared in the team gold medal won by the U.S.[6] She also qualified for the individual all-around in 3rd place, and to the uneven bars final in 6th place.[50] Douglas won the silver in the all-around, becoming the first reigning Olympic all-around champion since 2001 to return to the sport and win a world championships medal.

On November 13, 2015, The Columbus Dispatch revealed that Douglas would participate in the 2016 AT&T American Cup, in Newark, New Jersey.[51] It was confirmed on December 17, 2015.[52]


In March 2016, following her win at the 2016 AT&T American Cup, Douglas participated at the 2016 City of Jesolo Trophy,[53] where she won the all-around title.[54]

Awards and honors

In December 2012, the Associated Press named Douglas the Female Athlete of the Year. She became the fourth gymnast to receive the honor.[55]

Douglas was a nominee for the Laureus World Sports Award for Breakthrough of the Year. In June 2013, Douglas received two BET Awards for her accomplishments.

In the media

In July 2012, Douglas and her teammates were featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated Olympic Preview issue, the first time an entire Olympic gymnastics team had been featured on the cover of the magazine.[56] On July 20, Douglas was on one of five Time magazine Olympic covers.[57]

On August 3, the Kellogg Company announced that it would put a picture of Douglas standing on the podium with her gold medal on special-edition boxes of corn flakes, breaking the tradition of Olympic athletes appearing on Wheaties boxes.[58]

On August 26, Douglas spoke about racist bullying at Excalibur Gymnastics in an interview with Oprah Winfrey and how it nearly made her quit the sport. She described an incident in which she had heard other girls at the gym say "Why doesn't Gabby do it? She's our slave" when chalk is needed to be scraped off the bars.[59] The CEO of Excalibur Gymnastics, Gustavo Maure, denied these claims.[60]

In September 2012, Nintendo announced that Douglas would be part of a new ad campaign for New Super Mario Bros. 2.[61] On September 4, Douglas led the Pledge of Allegiance at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.[62]

In December 2012, Douglas released her autobiography, Grace, Gold, and Glory: My Leap of Faith.[63] The book debuted at number four on The New York Times Young Adult Bestseller List.[64]

Douglas had a small acting role on the Disney XD series Kickin It in the episode "Gabby's Gold", which aired on August 12, 2013.[citation needed]

"The Gabby Douglas Story" aired on Lifetime February 1, 2014[65] starring Imani Hakim in which Douglas performed all the gymnastic stunts herself.[66]

On March 31, 2015, it was announced that a reality television show for the Oxygen channel had been commissioned to follow Douglas and her family's life, issued under the working title Douglas Family Gold.[67] The show was initially touted to air in late 2015, and is slated for a May 25, 2016 debut.[68][69][70]

Floor music selections

2007–08: "Hora Presta" by Gilles Apap & the Transylvanian Mountain Boys
2011: "Memories (Me I'm Famous remix)" & "We No Speak Americano"
2012: "Bon Bon" by Pitbull, DJ Alvaro mix of "We No Speak Americano" by Yolanda Be Cool and DCUP.
2015–16: "Dare (La La La)" by Shakira


Competitive history

Year Event Team AA VT UB BB FX
2010 Nastia Liukin Cup 4th
Pan American Championships 1st 5th 1st
Covergirl Classic 9th 6th 3rd
Visa Championships (junior) 4th 4th 2nd 8th
2011 City of Jesolo Trophy 1st 4th 3rd 2nd
Covergirl Classic 2nd
Visa Championships 7th 3rd
World Championships 1st 5th
2012 Pacific Rim Championships 1st 1st
Secret U.S. Classic 1st 7th 3rd
Visa Championships 2nd 1st 7th 3rd
U.S. Olympic Trials 1st 1st 6th 3rd
Olympic Games 1st 1st 8th 7th
2015 City of Jesolo Trophy 1st 4th
Secret U.S. Classic 2nd 2nd 3rd 2nd
P&G Championships 5th 4th 9th 6th
World Championships 1st 2nd 5th
2016 American Cup 1st
City of Jesolo Trophy 1st 1st 2nd 3rd

See also



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External links