Gabrielle Douglas is now officially a beautiful young woman as she celebrates her 18th birthday today. Hats off to her mother for raising such a smart, levelheaded young woman who has accomplished quite a bit in her young life. Douglas is an award winning athlete and a New York Times bestselling author among other achievements.
She has pushed boundaries and when others criticized her, Gabrielle held her head high, the very thing they chose to belittle her for, and kept moving forward. As the limelight comes and goes to the next “personality” she has continued to work hard and live a principled life.
The bio from her website says her story wonderfully…
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 two 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. and only then could she learn the skills needed to reach an Olympic level. At age 14, having overcome a number of obstacles placed before her, Gabrielle left Virginia Beach and her family behind to train with Liang Chow. Living with a host family, the Partons, Gabrielle now plays the role of big sister to their four girls. However, she is the youngest of four in her family. Her older siblings Arielle, Joyelle and Johnathan are always there to offer their love, support and encouragement.
Since leaving home, Gabrielle has earned a Team Gold at the 2011 World Championships, placed first at the 2012 Olympic Trials (earning the only guaranteed spot on the Olympic Team), 2012 Olympic Team Gold and the 2012 Women’s Gymnastics Olympic All-Around Title. Making her not only the first African American to ever receive the All-Around title, but also the only female gymnasts in history to possess both Team and All-Around Gold in the same Olympics. Gabrielle also plans to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Happy birthday Gabrielle Douglas!