CHILDREN & YOUTH

BLACK HISTORY MONTH HIGHLIGHTS

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FEBRUARY 22, 2021

Gabrielle Douglas is a US Women's Artistic gymnast. At the 2012 London Summer Olympics, she won gold medals in both the team and individual all-around competitions. Gabrielle is the first woman of color of any nationality and the first African-American gymnast in Olympic history to become the Individual All-Around Champion. She is also the first American gymnast to win gold in both the gymnastic individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympic games.

Gabrielle was introduced to gymnastics by way of a cartwheel. Her older sister, Arielle – a former gymnast and competitive cheerleader, was determined to teach the toddler the sport she loved. Gabrielle immediately picked up her older sister’s love of the sport and soon taught herself how to do a one armed cartwheel.

Although a four year old Gabrielle vividly remembers flipping around the house and off the furniture, there was a bit of a delay in beginning her formal training. After four years of poking and prodding, Arielle convinced their mother, Natalie Hawkins, to allow Gabrielle to train at a local gym. Once formal training began, another two years was all it took for Virginia to crown Gabrielle as the new 2004 Gymnastics State Champion.

Gabrielle soon reached her peak at her local gym, quickly accumulating numerous victories and top finishes over the next few years. The task became clear; Gabrielle had to convince her mother to allow her, the youngest, to move across the country in pursuit of her Olympic dream. This would allow her an opportunity to train under elite coach Liang Chow in West Des Moines, IA.  At age 14, having overcome a number of obstacles placed before her, Gabrielle left Virginia Beach and her family in order to relocate to Iowa. In 2014, Gabrielle moved to Westerville, OH where she currently trains with coaches, Christian Gallardo and Kittia Carpenter.

Since leaving home in 2010, Gabrielle helped Team USA win gold at the 2011 and 2015 World Championships, placed first at the 2012 Olympic Trials (earning the only guaranteed spot on the Olympic Team), was a silver medalist in the all around at the 2015 World Championships, and won the gold medal in the all around at the 2016 AT&T American Cup. Gabrielle also had the highest all around score at the 2012 American Cup, however her scores did not count because she was competing as an alternate athlete. 

Gabrielle was a member of the Olympic Team at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.

Sources:  Gabrielle Douglas Website

              USA Today

              Inside UNC Charlotte