It didn’t take long for negative press to surface after Gabby Douglas’ interview with Oprah Winfrey aired. During her ‘Next Own’ interview, Gabby suggested that while training at Excalibur Gymnastics (her former gym) in Virginia Beach, she experienced racism. Specifically, Gabby said that a teammate demanded her to do something because she was their ‘slave’. Gabby told Oprah:
‘I definitely felt isolated. I felt, ‘Why do I deserve this? Is it because I’m black?’
Here’s a clip of Gabby sharing that she felt bullied:
[youtube width=”590″ height=”415″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UGOsnHaaoo[/youtube]
Her former coach Dena Walker responded to Gabby’s remarks, telling a Hampton Roads news outlet:
‘Really, I was shocked and very hurt.’
One of Gabby’s former team members, Randy Stageburg spoke with GymNewstics.com, denying Gabby’s experience.
‘This is absolutely ridiculous, Gabby was never a victim, in fact many would say she was one of the favorites. I am not saying that she never felt bullied because when you are in a sport with a bunch of girls it is bound to happen. However, anything that she may have felt was never about race and I can assure you everyone at some point has felt bullied. I watched Dena open her home to Gabby, feeding her, taking her to gym, and allowing her to stay over her house whenever Gabby wanted to…”
Even the CEO (Gustavo Moure) expressed his resentment towards what Gabby told Oprah and the rest of the world. He explained:
I wish to defend the children that trained with her and supported her when she attacks them with these allegations. Is Gabrielle a credible person just because she is an Olympic champion? She is not giving any names or dates, leading us to believe that the accusation is fake. Gabby’s remarks were hurtful and without merit. We’ve had more African-Americans in elite and on the national team than any other gym in the country.
What are your thoughts on their comments, disputing Gabby’s experience? Could Gabby have innocently exaggerated her experience or do you believe her claims that she was treated unfairly?