Gabby Douglas Makes History! First African-American Woman to Win All-Round Gold
On Thursday, Gabby Douglas became the first African-American woman and the first woman of color to win the individual all-round gold at the 2012 Olympics. Congratulations!
Team USA Gymnast Gabby Douglas took the world on by storm this year, leaping and flying through the air with such ease that she earned the nickname “The Flying Squirrel.” But now she’s got an even more impressive title: Yesterday, she won the individual all-round gold at the 2012 Olympics. Congratulations, Gabby!
But though the individual all-round is the most coveted award in women’s gymnastics, this particular win is even more important: Gabby made history as the first African-American woman—and, indeed, the first woman of color, period—to score the gold. She and her fellow Fab Five members also took the team gold, making Gabby the first American gymnast to win the top prizes for both individual all-round and team. She was the only member of Team USA to compete in all four events—vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor—of the team final.
What did Gabby herself have to say about her win? In the aftermath, she spoke to People, saying “I was on the bus [today] and it was raining and I thought, ‘It’s going to be a great day.’” Why? “My mom used to tell me when I was little, ‘When it rains, it’s God’s manifestation, a big day’s waiting to happen,’” she explained. “I texted my mom, ‘It’s raining. You know what that means.”
She described standing atop the podium with silver and bronze winners Victoria Komova and Aliya Mustafina, both from Russia, as “awesome:” “Seeing the flag raised and you’re on top and the national anthem just playing? You feel like you’re in a concert…. I’m living on Cloud Nine.” We can understand why!
You know what I love most about Gabby? It’s not her grace; it’s not her energy; it’s not even her precision. What I love so much about her is that she always looks like she’s having so. Much. Fun. Gymnastics is a tough sport, and like all tough sports, it requires a TON of concentration; and having been a competitive gymnast myself in my younger years, I understand that needing to concentrate that much often leads to the unfortunate, humorless “bitch face” a lot of gymnasts unknowingly wear while performing. But to watch Gabby, and to see her smiling so widely and truly enjoying what she does? It’s a joy, plain and simple.
Gabby also had some simple but strong words of advice for other young gymnasts: “I say keep fighting. I say push it. And it all pays off. Only believe in yourself.” And how!
Congrats again, Gabby! Team USA for the win!
Lucia Peters is BettyConfidential’s associate editor.