By Yoon Joung Lee
An American artistic gymnast, Gabrielle Christina Victoria “Gabby” Douglas, was born in 1995 in Virginia Beach, Virginia as one out of three siblings. She started her training at age six as her older sister convinced their parents to enroll her in gymnastics classes. There, Douglas met her coach, Dena Walker at Excalibur Gymnastics in Virginia Beach. Just two years later, when she was eight, she won the Level 4 all-around gymnastics title at the 2004 Virginia State Champion-ships.
When Douglas turned 14, she left her family in Virginia Beach and moved to West Des Moines, Iowa to train with elite coach, Liang Chow. With Chow’s coaching, Douglas placed fourth all-around at the 2010 Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup. That same year, she competed at the 2010 CoverGirl Classic in Chicago, IL.
In 2011, she made her senior debut. She tied for third on bars and placed seventh all-around at the 2011 U.S. National Championships. Douglas also competed as a member of the 2011 World Championship Team in Tokyo, Japan and her team won gold.
In 2012, she received the highest total all-around score in the womens’ competition at the AT&T American Cup but her score didn’t count because she was an alternate. That same month, she competed with the U.S. team at the Pacific Rim Championships. Although Douglas injured her ankle during the competition, she won gold on the uneven bars in the event finals. Douglas beat her teammate and competitor, Jordyn Wieber, for the overall title at the 2012 Olympic Trials in San Jose, CA and showed people she was a legitimate contender for the Olympic all-around title, as well.
At the 2012 London Olympics, Douglas competed for the U.S. at all four events in the team finals and earned 61.465 total around score. Her performance was vital for team USA’s gold medal victory. Douglas also earned 62.232 in the all-around final. She also won the all-around-gold individual medal, becoming the first African American gymnast to do so.
Douglas and her teammates were featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated for the 2012 Olympic Preview Issue and appeared on Rock Center with Bridal Williams. She was also featured on one of five Time magazine Olympic covers. After the 2012 London Olympics, she appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.