A black girl hasn’t won an individual medal in gymnastics at the Olympics, since Dominique Dawes’ won a bronze-medal in 1996. However, 16-year-old Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas is aiming to make history in the 2012 games.
The 5 foot, 94-pound gymnast nicknamed “Flying Squirrel” is originally from Virginia Beach, but moved to Iowa when she was just 14 to train with Liang Chow, the coach of 2008 gold medalist Shawn Johnson. She was a member of the U.S. team that won the gold medal in the team finals at the 2011 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Tokyo, Japan. Now, she is looking to compete in the Olympics for the US Team.
The Washington Post reports:
Douglas, who prefers to be called “Gabby,” won the gold medal on the uneven bars and got edged by just two-tenths of a point for the all-around gold by defending champion Jordyn Wieber at the USA gymnastics national championships in May.
Next comes the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials, Thursday through Sunday in San Jose, where 15 women and 15 men will vie for just five spots each on the London-bound teams. Wieber and Douglas appear certain picks.
Douglas’s forte is the uneven bars, a traditional weakness of the U.S. women, flying around the bars and delighting in difficult release moves. She’s equally lithe and athletic on the balance beam. And after falling at nationals, which cost her the all-around title, she showed formidable resolve in hopping back on and completing her routine with no trace of nerves.
Pressure, Douglas explains, has never made her “chicken out.” It only drives her to be better.
“Kind of like Superman!’” she says with a laugh.
Black female athletes are strongly represented in the Summer Olympics, but mostly in track & field, so it will be awesome to see some representation in gymnastics at the Olympics this year. Dominique Dawes was 15 when she went to the Olympics for the first time. She and Betty Okino, another African-American gymnast, both became the first African-American females to win an Olympic gymnastics medal that year in 1992. Here’s hoping Gabby Douglas makes the Olympic team this year and brings home a gold.
What’s your favorite Summer Olympics sport? Do you watch gymnastics?
Alissa Henry is a freelance writer living in Columbus, OH. Follow her on Twitter @AlissaInPink
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