US Gymnast Gabby Douglas Makes History
US Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas won perhaps the most coveted title in her sport when she took the gold medal in the women’s all-around competition on Thursday in London, becoming the first African-American female gymnast to ever win individual Olympic gold.
It was the second gold medal of the London games for Douglas, 16, who two days ago was part of the squad — dubbed the “Fab Five” — that took top honors in the team competition, giving the US its first such title since 1996.
Douglas, nicknamed “The Flying Squirrel” because of her high wire routines, became the third straight American to capture gold in the women’s all-around, following Nastia Liukin in 2008 and Carly Patterson in 2004.
Just two years ago, Douglas moved to Iowa from her home in Virginia Beach to train with Liang Chow, who coached gold medalist Shawn Johnson in 2008. Her mom was reluctant to let her go, but did so at the urging of Gabby’s two older sisters — and the decision paid off big.
Douglas’ first event on Thursday was the vault, and after doing a difficult routine and scoring 15.966, she had a lead she never relinquished. Routines on the uneven bars and the balance beam followed, with Russian gymnast Viktoria Komova hot on her heels.
Gabby was ahead by three-tenths of a point going into the final rotation, floor exercise, and while Komova performed beautifully, it wasn’t enough overtake Douglas and the tearful Russian had to settle for a silver medal instead.
There was a tie for third between Russia’s Aliya Mustafina and Aly Raisman of the US, who both finished with identical scores of 59.566. But once a new tiebreak system was applied — in which the top three scores for each gymnast were totaled up — Mustafina wound up with 45.933, besting Raisman by more than half a point and winning the bronze.