On December 31, 1995, in Newport News, Virginia, an African American girl of the name Gabrielle Douglas was born. Her parents would be Timothy Douglas and Natalie Hawkins and she would have three siblings; they were a Christian household. Gabby’s older sister (Arielle) taught her how to do a straight cartwheel at age 3 that was Gabby’s first encounter with gymnastics. Gabby began to practice more gymnastics moves at 4 years old. Gabby’s older sister finally convinced their mom to enroll Gabby into gymnastics, and Gabby went to Buckeye Gymnastics. At 8 years old, she started competing in competitive gymnastics competitions, and even won the state championship. When Gabby was 14 she moved to Des Moines, Iowa to train with a full-time coach. Gabby had many victories, and she also had many losses. In 2011, Gabby was given a chance to perform in front of an audience of national champions! She planned to do two back handsprings into a double backflip — but halfway through, she messed up. Despite this failure Douglas continued shining; she persisted and continually practiced until she finally got it right! Throughout the years, Gabby competed in competitions and earned many awards (such as the BET award for sportswoman of the year in 2013).
After committing over 18,000 hours to practice, in 2012, at age 16, Gabby became the first African American to win an olympic individual all around event at the summer games. She also earned gold team medals as well. Gabby has inspired many, serving as a role model to countless people. Movies and books have been created centering around her journey; she even has her own leotard line!
Yet, Gabby’s story is still not over, for she says she “just feels like [she hasn’t] really reached 100 percent of [her] ability” and she “really wants to do that — to go all out and do bigger gymnastics than [she] did before.” (quotes from Pilotonline.com). Today Gabby is 24 years old and has taken a break from gymnastics and is now focusing on her future. Gabby is an example of having determination, perseverance, and working hard. She has made history and will forever be an inspiration to many.