Gabrielle Douglas re-wrote the record books yesterday, by becoming the first African-American gymnast ever to win the Olympic gold as an individual. “Gabby,” as the world has quickly come to know her as, now has two gold medals to display on the mantel, as her team also took first place in the artistic competition earlier this week.
But given all of Gabby’s success, fame, and forthcoming fortune, can she also inspire more African-American girls to take up gymnastics?
Not only has the 16 year-old been one of the most exciting stories coming out of the Games this summer, but has already secured her legacy as a gymnast, while also witnessing her celebrity status soar to all-time heights, befitting of her nickname, the “Flying Squirrel.”
It’s been almost 20 years since Mary Lou Retton, another pint-sized, teenage gymnast, who flipped her way into the hearts of this country after winning the gold medal in the Los Angeles Summer Olympics. Retton was named, “Sportswoman of the Year” by Sports Illustrated, while her All-American face appeared on Wheaties boxes, but that was 1984 — 11 years before Gabby was even born. Also blessed with a beautiful smile and all the charm that her diminutive 4-foot-11 frame can handle, Gabby is all set to somersault her way up and down Madison Ave. and Hollywood Blvd. with potential lucrative endorsement deals and movie offers once the Games are over.
But despite all of her commercial promise, Gabrielle’s accomplishments as an Olympian are unsurpassed.