She was a first-timer, but she stunned the gymnastics and Olympic world by winning a gold medal for the U.S. Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglass, only 16 years old, is now the first African-American woman to win the Olympic gold medal in the women’s gymnastics’ all-around competition. The only other African American woman to get close was Domique Dawes, but she did not win the gold.
Gabby is from Virgina Beach, VA and comes from a family who made sacrifices that have helped her secure victory. At the young age of six Gabby’s older sister convinced her and her mother that she should take gymnastics lessons. They noticed her talent.
She began competing in statewide competitions and placing well or winning. When she was 14, her family then made a difficult decision to send her West Des Moines, Iowa, to train with a coach from China and live with a white family she had never met.
Her coach is Liang Chow, who had coached the Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson, and has now transformed Douglas into the all-around champion of the world.
Gabby commented on her winning by saying, “It was just an amazing feeling. I was just like: ‘Believe. Don’t fear. Believe.”
Gabby finished with 62.232 points, became the third consecutive American woman to win the coveted individual all-around gold, following Nastia Liukin, the 2008 Beijing champion, and Carly Patterson, who triumphed at the 2004 Athens Games.
Just the day before Gabby had won the gold medal with the U.S. women’s gymnastic team.
Here are some of the other highlights from the U.S. teams: