Gabby Douglas

Gabby Douglas 
Sena Carlson
(age 12)
      Gabrielle Christina Victoria Douglas was born December 31st, 1995. Her mother had horrible pains through Gabby's birth. The fact that she had had major crisis births with Gabby's two older siblings, John and Joyelle, didn't help either. Around the time Gabrielle was born, her parents were going through a huge financial crisis. One day, when the Douglas family was at their poorest, her parents made the hard decision to get a divorce. The children went with Natalie to live in Virginia, and their father later joined them. Both parents wanted to work it out, though, so the three younger kids (John, Joyelle, and Gabby), went to live with their father and his parents' house in Chesapeake. Things didn't work out, though, and Natalie and her husband went through with the divorce. It hit the remaining members of the Douglas family hard, not having a father to support them.

     But finally, Gabby's mother had enough money to buy a three-room town house- she had gotten back on her feet again. Then, Arielle, Gabby's older sister, suggested that Gabby take a gymnastics class. Natalie thought it was absurd. She had always loved having Arielle be the gymnast of the family, but Arielle wouldn't give up pleading for her sister's gymnastics lessons. Gabby's mother finally figured, she was good... Suddenly, Natalie had made a decision. She decided to let six-year-old Gabby go to Gymstrada, a gym that offered gymnastics classes near their house. The coach there recognized the six-year-old's raw talent immediately and put her in TOPS. TOP's initials stood for "Talent Opportunity Program".  TOPS was associated with USA Gymnastics, or, "USAG". This organization was very helpful to Gabby, because it would give her assistance to maybe, eventually, get into the Olympics one day. Gabby loved training at the gym, and rarely missed a day. When she was six, she was scheduled to train Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, totaling to six hours a week (This was when she had been moved up from normal classes).

   By 2003,  Gabby's training hours had doubled from six hours to twelve. She had to train super hard to win a TOPS gymnastics meet that would qualify her to go to Houston, Texas. There, she would be permitted to train with Marta Karolyi, a legend in gymnastics history. After a little gymnastics setback at one of her TOPS meetings, Gabby got the feeling that she needed better coaching. The next year, 2004, Gabrielle became even more impatient and frustrated with her coach. He wouldn't let her do the things she knew she was able to do. Finally, Natalie went to her coach and told her what was happening. Gabby's coach said that he didn't want to give her too much all at once. Gabby would often see the higher-level girls doing much harder skills that Gabby longed to perform. And then, every time Gabby won a meet, she would hear people say, "She's the next Dominique Dawes." Gabrielle did not know who Dominique was, so one night, she googled it. She was amazed with what she saw- Dominique Dawes was the first African-American to win a gold medal in women's artistic gymnastics! When she saw all the videos of Dominique performing her amazing feats, Gabby knew that she needed to get a better coach. She begged her mother so much, she finally gave in. She made arrangements for Gabby to go to a different gym called the Excalibur. Excalibur was much bigger than Gymstrada and it had more gymnasts. 

      Gabby got better at Excalibur, and got onto the TOPS A team. That meant she would have to go to train with girls who had been training in level seven and eight for weeks. In December, Gabby finally got to go to the Karolyi ranch and meet Marta Karolyi. In between 2004- 2005, Gabby made a huge leap- from level four to level seven. Her difficulty level became extreme. She even got on the TOPS A national  team.

       One day, when Gabrielle was fourteen years old, she found out that the coach she had admired forever, Liang Chow, was coming to her gym to have a training session with the gymnasts there! Gabby jumped at this chance. And then, when her mother had to take Chow to the airport, Gabby was sure that she would be able to go to Des Moines, Iowa! Going there to train with Liang was a dream she had been voicing to her mother ever since she heard he was coming to her area.

   Gabby was finally allowed to go to Des Moines- just not the way she had expected. A family who lived there volunteered to take her into their home while she trained at Chow's gym. Gabrielle was ecstatic! As soon as she arrived to Iowa, she and her new coach set their sights on one goal- the 2012 Olympics. Gabby trained harder than ever, until a sprained hamstring sent her high dreams crashing down around her. She wasn't allowed to train for weeks, and missed a huge meet. She fell into a pit of despair, and realized how homesick she was too. The homesickness ate away at her, and she couldn't focus on anything else. After thinking, she decided to quit her gymnastics career- seven months before the Olympics! Everyone in her family were sad and  disappointed in her- especially her mother. Gabby's faithful brother, John, was the one who finally persuaded her to get back into gymnastics. As soon as her doctor said it was OK, Gabby went back to the gym- and trained harder than ever.

   And at the 2012 Olympics, her many accomplishments included:
1. Being an Olympic all-around gold medalist
2. Being an Olympic team gold medalist
3.Being an Olympic trials all-around trials champion
4.Being an U.S. Olympic trials uneven bars gold medalist (tie)
5.Being a Pacific Rim uneven bars gold medalist
6. Being a Secret U.S. Classics uneven bars gold medalist
7. Being an U.S. national champion all-around silver medalist
8. Being an U.S. national champion uneven bars gold medalist
9. Being an U.S. national champion floor event bronze medalist

The shy baby who'd lived in a van for the first five years of her childhood was no more. In her place was a champion.

Bibliography - Grace, Gold, and Glory: My Leap of Faith (autobiography of Gabby Douglas)
(Assignment for Lesson 19 - Biography)

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