Did negative talk cause Gabby Douglas to stumble?
Gabby Douglas‘ historic Olympic run has ended — and wow, what a sight it was. The 16-year-old earned team and individual all-around gold medals, the first gymnast in history to do so. Douglas was also the first African-American gymnast to win the individual all-around gold medal.
This week, the Virginia Beach native faltered in her two individual competitions, the uneven bars and balance beam — but make no mistake, her place in history is a sure thing. When Olympic pressure reached its zenith — for both her team and individual all-around competition — Gabby stood taller and performed better than anyone at North Greenwich Arena.
Overall, Douglas’ press coverage following her historic gold medal win in the individual all-around competition was positive. Douglas graced the covers of major newspapers throughout the U.S., and she was dubbed “America’s Golden Girl” and “Golden Gabby” by sportswriters, blogs and her growing throng of fans on Facebook and Twitter. Nowhere to go but up, right? Well, not exactly.
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TMZ reported Douglas’ mother, Natalie Hawkins, filed for bankruptcy months before the London Games. Perhaps the more painful coverage came in the form of criticism of Douglas’ hair — mostly from African-American women via Twitter.
“Can Dominique Dawes fly to London to comb gabby Douglass’ hair ???!!!!?!?!” read one tweet. (*Update*, the tweet has been deleted) “I wanna do Gabby Douglas hair so bad. She makes me so sad,” read another.
In addition, a conservative radio host slammed Douglas and her teammates’ Olympic outfits, suggesting the team wasn’t displaying the appropriate level of patriotism.
Usually most athletes feign ignorance to the press.