Gabby Douglas overcame gymnastics bullies, was called ‘slave’
Douglas, who became the first American gymnast to win gold in the all-around and team competition at the same Olympiad, wanted to quit the sport because she felt so uncomfortable training at her Virginia Beach, Va., gym.
“I felt being bullied and isolated from the group,” Douglas told Winfrey. “They treated me not how they would treat their other teammates.
“I was just, you know, kind of getting racist jokes, kind of being isolated from the group. So it was definitely hard. I would come home at night and just cry my eyes out,” Douglas said, per the NY Daily News.
“One of my teammates was like, ‘Could you scrape the bar?’” she remembered. “And they were like, ‘Why doesn’t Gabby do it, she’s our slave?’
“I was the only African-American at that gym,” Gabby went on. “I definitely felt isolated. Why am I deserving this? Is it because I’m black? — those thoughts were going through my mind.”
Douglas says she felt these ways when she was about 14. It was also revealed in July that the 16-year-old came close to quitting gymnastics months before the Olympics. It’s a good thing the best all-around female gymnast in the world didn’t get too discouraged and that she managed to stick with it.
Hopefully Douglas’ success will inspire many young African-American children to compete in gymnastics, and hopefully the new generation of athletes won’t feel out of place in a gym thanks to Gabby’s success.