Training an elite gymnast can cost thousands of dollars per year, and it seems as though Douglas’ ability to profit from her skills has arrived just in time. Court records indicate that Gabby’s mother, Natalie Hawkins, filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Virginia in January.
Hawkins confirmed the bankruptcy Sunday, when questioned by reporters in London. “It shows that even though I didn’t like to have to do it, I’m glad there was something there for me to be able to protect my home.”
Natalie Hawkins is not the only parent of an Olympic gold medalist to weather financial difficulties. Published reports indicate that Swimmer Ryan Lochte’s parents are in the midst of foreclosure proceedings on their Florida home.
Andre Farr, Chairman and CEO of the Black Sports Agents Association, says that financial worries can be a thing of the past for Gabby Douglas if proper strategies are developed and executed. “All of her endorsement deals and business opportunities should be strategically structured to continue to pay benefits to Gabby well beyond her time in the limelight.”
Estimates indicate that Douglas could earn several million dollars from individual sponsors on an annual basis. Farr recommends that Douglas take an active role in her management and suggests that she seek professional training in finance, advertising and branding.
Douglas has displayed grace under pressure, but at 16, she is still maturing. As recently as a few weeks before the Olympic games, Martha Karolyi, coordinator of the women’s national gymnastics team, said that Douglas lacked confidence and focus. Douglas placed 7th and 8th in this week’s individual beam and uneven bars competitions respectively.
Two disappointing finishes following last week’s achievements have caused Douglas’ mental toughness and focus to be called into question again. Farr suggested that as her exposure increases, Douglas should work with a professional counselor to assist her in dealing with any stress involving emotional, mental or relationship issues. “The valuable asset that is Gabby Douglas must be protected so that she can turn her 15 minutes of fame into years of prosperity,” said Farr.
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