Gabby Douglas' Mom Talks About Letting Her Daughter Follow Her Dreams

Natalie Hawkins says it was hard sending her child away from home.

Posted: 08/03/2012 12:54 PM EDT
Gabby Douglas

It can't be easy to let your young daughter move away from home to follow her dreams, but thankfully Gabby Douglas' mother was able to do just that when she wanted to train 3,000 miles from home. In P&G's "Thank You Moms" video campaignNatalie Hawkins says there were many trying moments leading up to Gabby's Olympic gold medals.

Gabby's talent was apparent from an early age and though she initially refused to sign her daughter up for gymnastics class, eventually she caved. Four years later, and after watching Shawn Johnson participate in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Gabby asked that she train with Johnson's coach Liang Chow all the way in West Des Moines, Iowa. It took two years for Natalie to allow her daughter to move away from home. 

"I know I need to do it, but how do I send my youngest child away to a family that I don’t know?" she remembers thinking.

But that was just the beginning of some trying times as in 2011 Gabby felt so homesick that she wanted to return home to Virginia. This time Natalie was the one reminding Gabby of her dreams and urged her to fight through it and not quit.

"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," she says.

It's all paid off now that she's not only helped the U.S. women's gymnastics team win their first gold medal since 1996, but also has become the first African-American to land the gold for the women's individual all-around competition.

"It was amazing. I feel so honored. ... It's a barrier breaker, and I think that it just says something more about it," Gabby told reporters after her big win.

"When [I] look back and think about it now, wow, everything is possible," says the gymnast. "I moved to Iowa [and there were] a lot of sacrifices, but they pay off."

Her mom certainly feels the same way about her little champion saying, "I've raised an Olympian! Wow, that's a powerful statement right there."


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