All Articles Tagged "Gabby Douglas"
It’s Monday, so you know what that means: #ImGoingToMakeUpAHashtagForThisStoryToCelebrateBlackGirlMagic.
If you’re looking for a reason to smile, to get back in the gym, or to throw yourself around to see if you can still execute back flips in your backyard, let 19-year-old Simone Biles inspire you. Just this past weekend she won her fourth straight title at the P&G U.S. gymnastics championships, making her the first gymnast in more than 40 years to do so. Biles beat out gymnast Aly Raisman, who won two gold medals at the London Olympics. When speaking on her soon-to-be teammate at the Olympic games in Rio, Raisman admitted that Biles is not to be played with.
“Even when the coaches talk to us, they’re like, ‘Don’t even count Simone,’ she told USA Today. “‘She’s just in her own league.'”
Behind Raisman were Lauren Hernandez in third, Gabby Douglas in fourth place (who took home two gold medals in London like Raisman), and Madison Kocian in fifth place.
So how did Biles do it? With some complicated moves that somehow always looked light and as if they came with ease for the gymnast. For instance, Biles had a near-perfect score on the vault, nabbing a 9.9 for execution. And she had all the judges smiling with her flawless floor exercise routine, which included a signature move named after her– “The Biles.” It’s a double flip with a half twist.
Check out a little bit of the slayage that took place in St. Louis below and keep your eye on Biles come August. She’s clearly the one to beat–and according to the big dogs in gymnastics, that’s going to be hard to do.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) June 27, 2016
What does it take to be a high-flying, Olympic gold-medal winning, history-making gymnast? For 20-year-old Gabby Douglas, it takes more than 30 hours in the gym each week perfecting her craft. You read that right: more than 30.
In an interview with SELF, Douglas, and her trainer, Christian Gallardo, shared her intense regimen to prepare her for competitions, which includes strength training and conditioning work in the morning, and hours spent working on her floor routines, as well as practicing for the balance beam and uneven bars. She takes a break from her training briefly to meet up with friends for lunch, but then it’s back to work in the gym at 2 p.m. No sleep ’til gold. Or better yet, until she’s taken over gymnastics world for the second Olympics in a row.
“Gabby gets it. She understands,” Gallardo told the publication. “She gets in there, busts her butt and works out hard. But instead of saying ‘Ugh, that was so exhausting,’ she’ll say, ‘I’m so much better because of it.'”
And as SELF pointed out, it’s the joy of learning and cultivating new moves and skills that keep Douglas pushing hard in the gym, on the mat, on the bars, and on the beam on a daily basis. “Learning new skills and tricks fuels my passion.”
On top of learning what she does to stay in shape and to ace those flawless routines, we also were given the opportunity to see Douglas at work, flipping and posing, kicking and landing. We learned that while attempting to stick her moves, which we the viewers at home think she executes so easily, Douglas is a perfectionist in her head the entire time. Whether performing during practice or doing her thing in front of thousands of people during competitions and at the Olympic games, she’s focused on only one person during her routines–herself.
“It’s kind of like I’m talking inside my head. I’m my biggest critic. Everything has to be perfect for me, and I’m just so precise–even to the last fingertip…What I’m looking for is to just reach the maximum and reach 100 percent of my talent. What that is is just doing better than I did before. It has to come from your heart. You really have to love gymnastics. Love the tough and the hard days. Because when the easy days come, it’s just so effortless. Nothing in life is ever handed to you. You have to go out there and you have to get it.”
Check out Douglas in action below, and when the Olympic games commence on August 5 on NBC.
Three years ago, I wrote about my younger cousin and the issue she had with one of her classmates, the only other Black girl in their private elementary school. The story was used to highlight the ways in which young, Black girls are raised to see each other as competition instead of a support system from a very early age.
In the comment section, someone said something very profound, “It seems like there’s something threatening about Black women/girls that have a positive relationship with one another.”
When I read the comment years ago, I thought perhaps it might have been a little too extreme, an exaggeration. But the older I get and more woke I become, the more I realize just how much Black women are under attack. As DJ Khaled would say, “They don’t want to see Black women get along.” And that’s the truth. We see it in the backlash and inappropriate comments that pop up, every year when Black women actually celebrate themselves with “Black Girls Rock.” We saw it in “Here’s My Problem With Black Girl Magic,” a think piece written by Linda Chavers, a Black woman, for Elle Magazine, a publication that appeals to a mostly White readership. It was there when Nancy Grahn tried to piss all over Viola Davis’ history-making Emmy acceptance speech, where she called for the inclusion of Black women in film and television roles. It was there when Piers Morgan blasted Beyoncé’s recent Super Bowl halftime performance, as well as the masterpiece that is Lemonade, saying he preferred her when she was “less inflammatory and agitating.” He preferred the Beyoncé who “didn’t play the race card so deliberately.”
Basically, he was here for singing about love and putting a ring on it, but had no time for her expressing a desire for “Freedom,” surrounded, very intentionally, by Black women, including mothers of the movement, who used their own voices in their decision to appear in the video. God forbid Black women unite to celebrate and empower one another. God forbid White people feel neglected and abandoned by the art.
Society seems to really get off on the Black girl rivalry narrative. People, Black and White alike, feel much more comfortable watching Black women physically or verbally attack one another on reality television. We enjoy having discussions about the shade thrown or beef between two women in the industry. And I won’t lie to you, it can be quite entertaining. But the problem lies in the fact that so many people seem to be disinterested in the other side of the equation, when Black women love, support and encourage one another. Truth be told, it’s that other side that is far more indicative of the experiences I’ve had with Black women.
And young, Black girls need to see that other side. Not only in their real lives but reflected back to them in the media.
Which is why I was so happy to stumble across this interview, from last week, with Savannah Guthrie, Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas on “Today.”
In discussing the success Biles has enjoyed the best three years, she attempted to speak on the nature of her relationship with Gabby.
Savannah Guthrie: Gabby given you any good advice? I know you’re teammates and probably rivals a little bit.
Simone: Not so much.
Gabby: We’re not catty like that.
Simone: Yeah, keep it fun.
I don’t think Guthrie meant anything by her question. I doubt she was trying to start some trouble. Truth is, this notion of Black girl rivalry is so engrained in the country’s culture that it likely didn’t even register that she was playing into a terrible stereotype about women, Black and White, who compete with one another in a team sport. There’s the assumption that things will get messy. That women couldn’t possibly be this close with one another and there not be drama, even “a little bit” as Guthrie asked.
It is possible. In fact, the bonds teammates build with one another are incredibly strong. You spend some much time with one another, that you have no choice to be close. And I’m glad that Biles and Douglas are projecting that image into the world, giving us grown Black women and all the young Black girls the other side of the equation, the one we don’t see too often on our television screens.
Are you ready for your daily dose of #BlackGirlMagic? Well, we’ve got it for you. Gymnasts Gabby Douglas is not the only Black gymnast breaking records and collecting medals. She’s still doing that but now there’s Simone Biles.
We told you, back in 2014, that Biles was the one to watch. And she has certainly lived up to every bit of the hype. In 2014, she took home four Gold medals at the 2014 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Nanning, China, breaking the record for the most gold medal gymnastic wins.
And her reign doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
Yesterday, in Glasgow, Scotland, she became the first woman to win three consecutive titles at the world championships. She won by her largest margin every. And right her, one step below her on the podium, was Gabby Douglas. You may recall that Douglas was the first American to win the Olympic gold medal since 1981. Romanian gymnast, Larisa Iordache, came in third.
In an interview with the Associated Press, 18-year-old Biles spoke about her own record-breaking accomplishment.
“I just keep blowing my own mind because yes there are goals that I have and then I dream of it and then I make it a reality. I’m just shocked by myself.”
According to the AP, Biles’ performances have become events. She specializes in “groundbreaking tumbling.” There’s even a floor exercise move named after her.
She’s clearly looking like the favorite in next year’s Olympic games in Rio.
People are already calling Gabby Douglas, her fellow USA teammate, her biggest competition. During the competition, Douglas, now 19, was strongest on the uneven bars. Still, she is reportedly cognizant of the distance between she and Biles, who she calls “amazing.”
Douglas is attempting to become the first gymnast in 50 years to become a “repeat” Olympic gold medalist.
She said, “I’m excited for the road ahead. I’ve got bigger skills coming along.”
It’ll be hard to choose who to root for next year, but if either one of these ladies win, we’ll be glad about it.
While briefly perusing social media this past weekend, I ran across a meme with a side-by-side image of President Obama and Michelle at the China State Dinner at the White House on Friday. Next to them, there was a picture of Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson and his wife, Candy. The caption for the meme? A parody of the hilarious “Don’t be like ___ me” DirecTV commercials:
“Hi, I’m President Barack Obama, and I have DirecTV.”
And in contrast:
“Hi, I’m presidential candidate Ben Carson, and I have cable.”
To me, I thought the images were put together to show off how awesome (and fly) our president and the First Lady are in comparison to the controversial and swag-deprived Carson and his wife. But as I would find out this morning, the meme was created to poke fun at the looks of Carson’s wife. While Michelle looked radiant in one photo with her sickening side-swept hair and curve-hugging gown, Candy looked very tame, like she on the way to parent-teacher conferences. She waved to supporters in a photo from Ben’s presidential run announcement rally, hair pulled back, rocking a fluted polka-dot skirt with a large red belt, glasses, and a blazer. Despite the latter image being old (it’s from May), people on social media still had a field day over it this past weekend, cracking jokes about Candy’s style and overall appearance. Despite her husband’s decision to be in the spotlight and make controversial comments that have garnered the accomplished doctor many detractors, it was Candy who was receiving all the criticism this time around. Not cool, guys. Not cool.
In a piece for The Root, Demetria Lucas D’Oyley defended Candy from her critics, stating that Ben chose to be in the spotlight, not her. Therefore, the attacks on her appearance are uncalled for. However, Lucas D’Oyley also criticized Candy’s fashion sense in the same breath. She even stated that Candy’s Seventh-Day Adventist faith isn’t a good excuse for her style missteps. According to the author, “religion and modesty are not synonymous with ill-fitting and unflattering and out-of-date” clothing.
Are there sexist and, in this case, racist underpinnings that make appearance matter more in certain circumstances? Absolutely. But until those “isms” are dismantled, women absolutely need to look as if they at least tried, especially when they’re up for a role they really want.
I won’t drag Candy Carson. I’m sure she is a lovely woman, and she has endured her husband’s politics for 40-plus years. But I will say that I can’t help noticing that as a presidential candidate, Ben Carson always shows up looking like the position he wants to have. I want the Mrs. to look the same.
And I can somewhat get where Lucas D’Oyley is coming from. Appearance matters in most realms of life. When you interview for a job, you can’t walk into an office looking like a Love and Hip Hop hopeful. And when you’re going to be in front of the camera every day, you don’t want to have a look that distracts people. But when these type of issues arise in the news (or via social media), I’m often left thinking to myself, My goodness…we focus on the wrong things.
We’re focused more on Candy’s looks than we are her husband’s politics. Just like we were way too focused on Gabby Douglas’s hair when she was flipping for gold at the 2012 Olympics in London. Just like people continue to focus too much on Serena Williams’s muscles, and when they’re not, they’re wondering when she’s going to move on to another hairstyle. And just like the time social media put Pam Oliver’s looks on front street. Leaving some to wonder if the controversy over her wigs was one of the reasons she was demoted from her position at Fox Sports and replaced with Erin Andrews. Despite the more important reasons why we were seeing these women on our TV screens, and their great accomplishments that we could have been celebrating, we were talking about surface beauty standards and what we “want,” as Lucas D’Oyley said, these ladies to look like.
I get it. We’ve all looked at someone’s ensemble or hair choice when they’re on the main stage and thought, yikes! But there’s a difference between thinking something and deciding to make a mockery of someone on social media. This is especially troubling considering that the same criticisms are never lobbed at the husbands of famous women. They’re not expected to look like more than any other guy in a simple suit. And yet, Candy, who is well into her 60s and hasn’t been in the spotlight very often, is expected to step out looking like a million bucks. What exactly was she supposed to put on in this stage of her life that would have pleased folks? Was it the ponytail that turned you off? The skirt? The glasses? Does her ensemble make you trust Ben any less?
Yeah. Get over yourself.
And, honestly, as amazing as Michelle Obama looks in this meme, that’s not how she appeared when President Obama announced his initial run for president. I’m from Chicago’s Southland, and I remember old-school Michelle. The days when President Obama was just running for Senate, and Michelle didn’t look nearly as polished as she does now. But with time, the right stylists, and some fabulous hair and makeup artists at her beck and call in the White House, Michelle has become a fashion icon. But like Candy, she didn’t start that way. It took a while for her to ditch the flip curl, sharp eyebrows, and bell-sleeve ensembles. But once she did, va-va voom!
Look, I’m not trying to say that people don’t need to look like they love themselves when they step out of the house, but I think we’re way too hard on way too many women, Black women especially, when it comes to how they choose to present themselves to the world, as the women they really are (not as if they’re stepping out on the red carpet). And considering that in the meme, Ben is holding Candy’s hand, looking happier than a kid in a candy store next to his wife of 40 years, does anything else really matter?
Awesome Dawesome is what they called her – better known as gymnast and “Magnificent Seven” Olympic gold medalist Dominique Dawes. A hometown hero and one of my favorite athletes, I remember recording her competitions on VHS when I was a kid. I prayed to the gymnastics gods to make me just as fast, talented and fierce as she was. We had an awful lot in common, after all. I figured all I needed to do was learn the sport real quick, but I was a little too old when I finally enrolled in a class at the very gym where Dawes used to train. And classes weren’t exactly cheap, so thus ended my athletic career before it even began.
At that time in the early to mid-‘90s, Dominique Dawes was the only prominent Black gymnast on the scene. To watch her perform was a thing of beauty. No one moved like she did, especially on the floor exercises. I’m sure Dawes didn’t realize the impact she would have on other girls (and boys) of color who dreamed of tumbling and twisting at seemingly impossible heights, just like she did. But her presence and dominance in a sport that is still primarily White helped pave the way for numerous athletes of color. And with a slew of firsts under her belt – she was one of the first African-American female gymnasts to compete and qualify for an Olympic games in 1992, and the first to win an individual medal when she took home the bronze at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta for her floor routine – she showed that there was still lots of ground to cover.
Since Dawes, we’ve seen gymnasts like Lloimincia Hall, a recent Louisiana State University graduate who competed in the NCAA. The first time I saw Hall perform at a televised competition I asked myself, “Who is this girl?” Standing at just 4 feet and 11 inches, Hall is not only a powerhouse, but equal parts gymnast and cheerleader. To say she gets the crowd revved up during her performances would be an understatement. Her musical choices are far different and more lively than any other gymnast’s, and the energy she brings to the floor is contagious. A four-time All-American and three-time reigning SEC Floor Exercise Champion, Hall holds the LSU record for most career perfect 10.0 scores on the floor.
If you don’t know Hall, here’s a gymnast who has become a household name: Gabby Douglas. She’s competed in U.S. and world championships for quite some time, but for many of us, Douglas first came to our attention at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Qualifying for the Olympic trials, Douglas landed the only secure spot on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team after placing first in all-around rankings. Douglas was the first African-American since Dominque Dawes to make the U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team. And in yet another first, Douglas was the first African-American gymnast (or woman of color, period) in the history of the Olympic games to win gold in the individual all-around. And, of course, Douglas also took home a gold medal alongside her U.S. teammates. With her success and popularity came a Lifetime television movie, The Gabby Douglas Story. The gymnast also graced countless magazine covers, including Time, Sports Illustrated and Essence. She even found time to release a book: Grace, Gold, and Glory: My Leap of Faith.
The American public ate Gabby up, and rightfully so. This girl was on fire. But for all the positivity and light that was shone on Douglas’ obvious talents, the gymnast also shared her less than positive experiences while training. She made known the racism and bullying she faced by fellow gymnasts at Excalibur Gymnastics in Virginia Beach, a claim that the gym vehemently denied. And who can forget the criticism Douglas received over her supposedly unkempt hair? We all know the significance and representation of hair in the Black community. But this, in the midst of her meteoric, history-making rise, never should have been an issue on the social media or national news front. But like the champ she is, Douglas silenced her critics by telling them they needn’t be concerned about the state of her hair, ‘cause she sure wasn’t. Needless to say, racism, hair – these aren’t issues that non-Black gymnasts have to contend with, which shows there’s still plenty ground to be broken and lessons to be learned.
Last week, all of my fond childhood memories of watching Dominique Dawes came rushing back when I saw Simone Biles compete at the World Gymnastics Championships. This was the first I had ever seen or heard of her, but she has won the title three times now. After earning a near-perfect score for one of the most difficult vaults that women’s gymnasts perform, it’s easy to see why. I expect to see both Biles and Douglas at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro next year. If they qualify for the team, and I have no doubt that they will, it’ll be the first time that two African Americans are on a U.S. women’s gymnastics team at the same time.
Dawes, Hall, Douglas, Biles – these gymnasts don’t know whose lives they’ll touch or who they’ll inspire. Their presence and sportsmanship means more than they’ll ever know and opens doors for more minority representation in the sport of gymnastics. I thank them for their leadership.
It’s graduation season, and two of our favorite teens are officially high school graduates. Olympic gold medalist Gabrielle Douglas, 19, and actress Zendaya Coleman, 18, received their diplomas from Oak Park High School Thursday.
Shortly after the ceremony, where according to TMZ actor Bob Newhart was the commencement speaker, Douglas rushed to catch a flight.
“Not gonna lie. It was tough to balance school and gym.. but i did it!” she exclaimed on Instagram, “kno when u set ur mind to achieve something u can do it. anddddd yes I’m at the airport gotta get right back to the grind love u guys.”
Coleman also took to the photo sharing site with a celebratory/inspirational message, writing:
“Shout out, not just to all the 2015 grads but to the soon to be! Please remember knowledge is one of the most powerful gifts we have the privilege of receiving…don’t take that for granted. To every soon to be grad, know that you CAN do it! (if I can get through it then anyone can) It’s a long road, so many things will pose as obstacles in your way and at times the end seems further and further away, but please remember the importance of that beautiful mind you have and all the limitless powers you hold. All my love #sorryforgettingdeep.”
According to E! Online, both starlets attended the Oak Park Independent School, where they were provided with flexible schedules to accommodate their work itineraries.
Shout out, not just to all the 2015 grads but to the soon to be! Please remember knowledge is one of the most powerful gifts we have the privilege of receiving…don't take that for granted. To every soon to be grad, know that you CAN do it! (if I can get through it then anyone can😂) It's a long road, so many things will pose as obstacles in your way and at times the end seems further and further away, but please remember the importance of that beautiful mind you have and all the limitless powers you hold. All my love😘 #sorryforgettingdeep😂
Congrats to these beauties!
Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas is heading to a small screen near you. According to The Associated Press, the 19-year-old and her family are set to star in a new series titled “Douglas Family Gold.”
The Oxygen program will be co-produced by Gabby and her mom Natalie Hawkins and will document her journey as she sets out to defend her title at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. “Douglas Family Gold” was one of 8 new series to be announced by the network this week.
“The bi-coastal Douglas family shuttles between California and Ohio to support Gabby’s training regimen while also juggling their own lives,” Oxygen explained in a press release.
Gabby’s brother, John, who will appear on the series, also hopes to compete in the Olympics in track and field. The gymnast’s two sisters Arie and Joy and her momager have also been tapped to star in the family show.
Two summers ago at the Espys, Gabby played with the idea of starring in a reality show during an interview with Cambio. However, at the time, she seemed more open to competitive shows like “Dancing with the Stars and “Survivor.”
Will you be tuning in?
As I watched The Gabby Douglas Story on Lifetime a few weeks ago, I was in awe of the sacrifices her family made for her to pursue her dreams of becoming an Olympian. There’s a scene where Imani Hakim as Gabby is trying to convince her mother Natalie (played by Regina King) that she needs to move to Iowa to train with Olympic coach, Liang Chow. Gabby is passionate and confident in the fact that the only way she can become a better athlete is to move and train with Chow. When her mother replies with, “No way. It’s not gonna happen,” Gabby’s determination even becomes somewhat disrespectful.
Luckily, Gabby gets a break and is able to begin chasing the Olympic gold in West Des Moines with Chow by her side. In their case, it paid off big but it required her family to put a lot on the line both personally and financially. Had it not been for a host family’s intervention, America may have never known who Gabrielle Douglas aka “The Flying Squirrel” was.
Regina King’s character reacted how many mothers, including mine, would have if their 14-year-old daughter told them they needed to move half way across the country to pursue their dreams. Even with Gabby displaying such amazing talent, her mother was still skeptical of uprooting the whole family, including siblings who had already sacrificed so much to support Gabby’s dream. It brings up a difficult dilemma for any parent: how much are you willing to sacrifice to support your child’s dream?
Would you quit your job to manage your child’s career? Would you move your family across the country? It really depends on how much you believe in your child’s dream. Jonnetta Patton did. After directing her son in the church choir in their hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee she quit her full-time job to be his manager. She moved the family to Atlanta where he competed in talent shows, and eventually was signed with LaFace records to record his debut album, “Usher”. Jonnetta received some backlash after fans learned she allowed her adolescent son to live with producer Sean “Diddy” Combs. Usher has even admitted he was forced to mature fast after witnessing the adult activities taking place in Diddy’s home who at the time was in the prime of his career. Although he’s had his share of struggles in his personal life that may or may not be a result of achieving fame at such a young age, today Usher is a platinum-selling, Grammy award-winning superstar.
Jonnetta is not the first parent to quit a job or move across the country with the hopes that her child would be a star. Children change their mind about their passion as often as they do their favorite food. When I was in middle school I went from ballet to piano lessons to art in a matter of months. As a parent, you have to be the voice of reason in helping your child explore their interests and actually commit to something they think they have a future in.
You also have to be honest about whether your child is pursuing their dream or yours. So many parents have their children chasing dreams they didn’t get to fulfill in their own youth. The child becomes so concerned with making them proud that they don’t even realize they have zero passion for what they’re pursuing. What also happens is that parents sacrifice and invest so much, and when the child decides they don’t want to dance, sing or act anymore, the parents force them to continue because they’ve already put so much on the line. You have to be honest with yourself about how much you can afford or are willing to invest and if the dream is worth it. If your child has siblings, their dreams aren’t only affecting their life path, but that of the whole family. For every budding Beyonce there’s a Solange who probably lost out on a lot of attention at times and that can be difficult for a sibling.
Not long before Gabby was winning gold medals and landing million-dollar endorsements, her mother filed for bankruptcy. Her $80,000 debt included a mortgage on the family’s Virginia’s townhouse as well as expenses for Gabby’s training. Plagued with medical problems, Natalie filed for long-term disability in 2009 and there were at least six months when the family had little to no income. Although the family is financially set now, Natalie says that what’s even more rewarding than the money was seeing Gabby reach her goals. In a Huffington Post article she reveals, “Letting go of Gabrielle was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life but it’s now one of the most rewarding things that I’ve ever gotten to experience … there’s no greater joy than for a parent to see their child reach their dream.”
What sacrifices have you made to support your child’s dream?
Toya Sharee is a program associate for a Philadelphia non-profit that focuses on parenting education and building healthy relationships between parents, children and co-parents. She also has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog BulletsandBlessings.
Want to know the inspiring story behind Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas? You’ll get the chance to see her rise against overwhelming odds as she gets the biopic treatment this weekend with the premiere of The Gabby Douglas Story on Lifetime. The gymnastics phenomenon won our hearts by winning two gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics, and became the first African American ever to be named Individual All-Around Champion in Artistic Gymnastics at an Olympic Games.
Sydney Mikayla (Whitney) portrays Douglas during her childhood and Imani Hakim (Love Reign Over Me) portrays her teenaged and young adult years. The real-life Gabby Douglas appears in the film, which also stars actress Regina King (Southland, Ray) and S. Epatha Merkerson (Law & Order).
Gabby’s an inspiration to kids and us all!
Don’t forget to watch The Gabby Douglas Story on Saturday, February 1st at 8PM ET/PT only on Lifetime Television.