Gabby Douglas is ready to make history, again. At the London 2012 Olympic Games, the 20-year-old became a household name seemingly overnight, winning both individual and team gold medals. With less than 100 days before the start of the Olympic Games in Rio, the Virginia Beach native is poised to be the first gymnast to defend her individual gold medal, successfully. Recently, Douglas sat down with Teen Vogue to discuss her journey of becoming one of the best gymnast and to make history happen again in Rio. Peep some excerpts below.
On adjusting to fame and fans:
I literally never thought I would ever have so many people behind me. It’s so special. I feel like I’m one of theirs, you know? Gabby, 20, shares. Sometimes I’m like, why are all those people taking pictures of that wall? And then I realize I am standing in front of it.
On if she though she had what it took to make it big:
It took a long time for me to see my own potential — a long time, Finally something clicked and I knew I could be one of the best. It was a game changer. Now I’m like, ‘I am going for this. I’m going for it all.’
On how social media criticism affected her:
It was very tough. Sometimes I would be in the bathroom, bawling my eyes out, wanting to quit. I felt like I was all alone. But when I came through it, I felt as if I could overcome anything.
Gabby’s mother (manager), Natalie Hawkins, reflects:
I remember when everyone was talking about her arms, and she became very self-conscious about how muscular they were. Then Gabrielle saw the elegance with which Serena Williams handled all the negative criticism of her own body. It was liberating for my daughter to see that. She said, ‘I don’t have to apologize to anyone about my body. My body is beautiful.’
On defending her titles again in Rio:
I guess when you’ve been there, you’re like, ‘Yeah, but can you do it again?’ I love the challenge. I love to push limits. I feel like I haven’t reached my full potential yet.