Gabby Douglas Makes History; First African American Woman to Win Gymnastics All-Around Gold Medal
Gabrielle "Gabby" Douglas has made history.
On Thursday, Douglas won the Olympics Gymnastics all-around gold medal, and she was the first African-American woman to do it.
After winning the team USA final earlier in the Olympic Games, the 16-year-old had a chance for another gold medal in the all-around.
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The New York Times reported that Liang Chow, who had coached the Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson, transformed Douglas into one of the best gymnasts in the world, helping her skyrocket from an average member of the national team to the top of the sport.
She also became the fourth American woman to win the all-around, following Mary Lou Retton in 1984, Carly Patterson in 2004 and Nastia Liukin in 2008.
Douglas won, scoring 62.232 points, and led the competition from beginning to end. Viktoria Komova, who sobbed into her coach's chest when she learned she had lost, won the silver, with 61.973 points. Aliya Mustafina, the 2010 world all-around champion, won the bronze with 59.566 points.
The 4 foot 11 Douglas said she had felt confident all along that she would win.
"It was just an amazing feeling," she said, giggling. "I was just like, Believe, don't fear, believe."
"How inspiring is that?" said Natalie Hawkins, the woman who allowed her then 14-year-old "baby" daughter to move from Virginia to Iowa in 2010 after Douglas convinced her that she was good enough to compete at the top, according to ABC News.
"I'm sick to my stomach the whole time and when it's time to go back, I'm not even sure where she's staying," Hawkins, a single mother of four, recalled Thursday, a half-hour or so after Douglas became the first African-American to win an individual Olympic gold in gymnastics, the Associated Press reported. "And I'm thinking to myself the whole time, 'What kind of mother does something like that?'"
Douglas was still trying to get used to the feeling of having her second gold medal in three days around her neck when Oprah Winfrey chimed in.
"OMG I'm so THRILLED for Gabby. Flowing happy tears!!" Winfrey posted on Twitter.
Explosive on vault and exquisite on uneven bars, Douglas never trailed. Though she sealed the third straight women's all-around title for an American with a floor routine that delighted the O2 Arena crowd, it was her pretty set on beam that provided the difference, ABC News reported.
According to People Magazine, Douglas' name has often been mentioned alongside that of gold medal-winning 1996 team member Dominique Dawes (who won team gold), but Douglas doesn't mind the comparison.
"She's definitely one of my inspirations and role models growing up," Douglas said in a press conference Tuesday. "Everyone's comparing me to her, and I feel honored to be compared to her."
The Olympic gold medalist is already on a box of Kellogg's Corn Flakes. USA Gymnastics posted a picture of the box on its Twitter page.
"You just have to not be afraid and go out there and just dominate," Douglas said afterward, a stuffed Olympic mascot under one arm, a bouquet of flowers in one hand and an Olympic gold medal around her neck, the Washington Post reported. "You have to go out there and be a beast. Because if you don't, you're not going to be on the top."