America’s Golden Girl
by The Milton Measure on Friday, September 21st, 2012
After an awe-inspiring women’s gymnastics all-around final, Americans watched in amazement as Gabby Douglas became the first American woman to win a gold medal in both the women’s team gymnastics event and the women’s gymnastics individual all-around. The individual all-around competition is the premiere gymnastics event and traditionally crowns the world’s best gymnast. Only the fourth American woman to win this competition at the Olympics, 16-year-old Douglas also made history as the first African-American to ever win the prestigious competition. The most recent American woman to win the all-around before Douglas was Nastia Liukin at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
“A lot was going through my mind, I was like, ‘Yes, all the hard work has paid off,’” Gabby told Bloomberg reporters after winning the individual all-around. “I was speechless. Tears of joy and just waving to the crowd.” Gabby is also known to have a larger personality than those of her Olympic predecessors.
“She’s not afraid to get out there and smile, she likes to wave to the crowd. All of which, by the way, drives her coaches crazy,” reports ESPN, “they wanted her to be in that tunnel vision, that focus, and she’s got this genuine, self-effacing way about her.”
The road to number one was long and taxing for young Douglas. Gabby realized the only way she could achieve her dreams was to learn from the best: Coach Liang Chow, balance beam gold medalist Shawn Johnson’s coach from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In order to receive top training from Chow, Douglas needed to move west to Des Moines, Iowa. After two years of begging, her mother finally allowed her to leave home and travel the 1000 miles to live with a host family. When her family visited her in 2011, Gaby, demoralized, complained about homesickness and wanted to move back home. According to Yahoo.com, she called her mother saying, “Mom, come on, you’re supposed to be on my side on this. You’re supposed to have the baby come home.” Douglas’s mother responded, ‘No, life is not easy. You have to fight and just refuse to quit.” And fight she did; that year, as a part of Team USA, she won a gold medal at the World Championships in Tokyo, Japan.
Gabby Douglas’ story has not only created an example for aspiring gymnasts and athletes to fight for what they desire, but has also inspired Americans to achieve their dreams.
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