Gabrielle Douglas, the 16-year-old American artistic gymnast and member of the U.S. Women's Gymnastics team at the 2012 Summer Olympics, made history on Thursday by becoming the first American American – and only fourth American – gymnast to win gold in the individual all-around championship, and the first American to win gold in both the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympic Games. She was also a member of the gold-winning U.S. team at the 2011 World Championships.
And what makes her feat even more amazing is that the teenager “kind of forgot” the fact that she was making history in all these counts, climbing her way through a path traced previously by Dominique and other African American gymnasts that brought diversity to a sport once considered just for the white and privileged.
"How inspiring is that?" said Natalie Hawkins, Gabby’s mom and the woman who once sold her jewelry to pay for her 14-year-old "baby" daughter move from Virginia to Iowa in 2010 – after Douglas and her coaches convinced Mrs. Hawkins that her daughter had what it takes to be a champion. And boy they were right!
Gabby – along with 17-year-old Aurora, Colorado, swimmer Missy Franklin – is also part of the first Olympic Team USA in history where female athletes outnumber male ones. This also may explain why – at least in gymnastics – performance by female Olympians has been superior to their male counterparts (males gymnastics failed to win a medal after both of its most hyped-up stars – John Orozoc and Danell Leyva – botched during the finals).
History-making Gabby was immediately congratulated by talk show queen Oprah Winfrey and invited to the White House by President Barack Obama. "OMG I'm so THRILLED for Gabby. Flowing happy tears!!" Winfrey posted on Twitter.