Tuesday, August 7, 2012
American gymnast Gabrielle Christina Victoria Douglas, better known as Gabby Douglas or "Flying Squirrel," was born on December 31, 1995, in Virginia Beach, Virginia, to Timothy Douglas and Natalie Hawkins. Her first experience with gymnastics came at the age of 3, when she perfected a straight cartwheel using a technique that she learned from her older sister, Arielle, a former gymnast. By age 4, Douglas had taught herself how to do a one-handed cartwheel.
Thanks to Arielle's persuasion tactics, Douglas's mother allowed her to begin taking formal gymnastics classes at the age of 6. Only two years later, in 2004, she was named a Virginia State Gymanstics Champion.
When Douglas turned 14, she left her hometown and family, and moved to West Des Moines, Iowa, to train with renowned coach Liang Chow, known for molding American gymnast Shawn Johnson into a world champion and Olympic gold medalist. Travis and Missy Parton volunteered to be Douglas's host family in West Des Moines: According to Douglas's official website, she plays big sister to the Parton's four daughters, one of whom is also a student of Chow's.
Douglas was a member of the U.S. team that won the gold medal in the team finals at the 2011 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Tokyo, Japan. She also won the 2012 Olympic Trials, which took place in San Jose, California, and was selected to the national team to represent the United States at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England.
Her unique blend of power, flexibility, body alignment and form has led her to be compared with three-time Olympian Dominique Dawes. Douglas is the first African American to make the U.S. Olympic women's gymnastics team since Dawes in 2000. Douglas's high-flying skills and high difficulty score on bars enticed her to U.S. women's national team coordinator Martha Karoyli, who nicknamed her "Flying Squirrel."
Congratulations to Gabby for her groundbreaking achievement and for being an inspiration to all little girls out there who now believe their dreams can come true!