Gabrielle Douglas performs on the balance beam during the artistic gymnastics women's individual all-around competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics. (Photo: AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
The 16-year-old, known as the "Flying Squirrel," jumped, leaped and soared over the competition Thursday, becoming the third straight American to win the artistic gymnastics women's individual all-around competition and also the first African-American. She finished with a score of 62.232. Russia's Viktoria Komova came in second.
"I wanted to seize the moment," Douglas said. "It hasn't sunk in yet. Team finals hasn't sunk in yet. But it will."
Writes the Associated Press:
It was two years ago that Douglas told her mom, Natalie Hawkins, that she wanted to move from their home in Virginia Beach, Va., to train with Chow, who coached Shawn Johnson in 2008. Hawkins said absolutely not; there was no way she was allowing the youngest of her four children to move halfway across the country at 14.
But Douglas' two older sisters lobbied on her behalf, giving their mother a list of reasons why Gabby should be allowed to go. The only reason to stay: They would miss her.
Hawkins finally relented, but not without many second thoughts, including: "That I was crazy. I must have lost my marbles. But she wanted this more than anything."
Few could have imagined this result a year ago. Jordyn Wieber was the world champion and heavy favorite, while Douglas was the one who was a total mess at the national championships. But she gained confidence as part of the U.S. team that took gold at the 2011 world championships, and proved to herself she was as good as anyone when she beat Wieber at the American Cup in March, never mind that her scores didn't count because she was competing as an alternate.
Douglas's fine performance shows that hard work and support do pay off.
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