UCLA gymnast Nia Dennis says Gabby Douglas one of her ‘idols’
'And she's so sweet, such a good woman, good human, good morals, good values. She was just so positive and uplifting,' Dennis remarked of Douglas.
During a new interview, rising gymnast Nia Dennis shared her adoration of her peer and inspiring figure Gabby Douglas.
The 21-year-old opened up about the relationship she has with her the Olympic Gold-medalist not only as an athlete, but as a Black woman and a friend.
“Gabby Douglas … She’s the bomb. I actually trained with her back in 2014, 2015. So, we’re good friends and literally, she was one of my idols,” the collegiate athlete shared with PEOPLE.
Douglas is revered for her athletic skill and notably, she became the first American gymnast to win solo and team all-around gold medals in the same Olympic Games in 2012 summer competition when she and the “Fierce Five” which included, fellow gymnasts Jordyn Wieber, McKayla Maroney, captain Aly Raisman and Kyla Ross won 1st place in the individual all-around and she won 1st place in the individual all-around. Douglas was the first Black woman to win the event.
Dennis reflected on the magnitude of the historic moment to PEOPLE.
“Representation is so important. One out of the five girls that went to the Olympics that year, she was the only black gymnast and that’s incredible to see,” Dennis said of Douglas to the entertainment outlet. “Then to have her training with me is like, ‘Wow, that’s insane. Literally love you.”
She added, “It wasn’t like an envy thing like, ‘Oh, she made it to the Olympics, I didn’t.’ She’s a Black woman doing this story. She can do it, I can also do it. She’s over here helping me and now I’m going to help my younger teammate that’s also trying to be the same thing … even if she’s two, three years younger. It still doesn’t matter. Now I’m going to spread the knowledge that Gabby gave to me to her and that’s kind of what was really most impactful to me.”
Dennis has risen in gymnast fame through her athleticism and swagger displayed by viral routines. theGrio reported the UCLA athlete recently competed at the Pac-12 women’s gymnastics meet pitting UCLA against Arizona State where she and her team claimed victory.
Her floor routine was stylized and performed to a soundtrack blending Hip Hop & R&B including songs from Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé, Missy Elliott, Soulja Boy, Megan Thee Stallion, and Tupac Shakur.
“And, of course, I had to incorporate a lot of parts of my culture,” she said of the routine according to the report. “I wanted to have a dance party because that’s my personality, and of course I had to shout out LA because we out here, UCLA.”
Olympic and World Championship gymnast Simone Biles gave the performance a glowing review on Twitter.
She added more on the importance of highlighting her culture in conversatiojn with PEOPLE.
“There’s not a lot of Black gymnasts so representation is very important and I wanted to bring the Black culture to the sport of gymnastics, especially given the reach that UCLA gymnastics gets in our platform,” she remarked. “I definitely wanted to capitalize and use it and really get the message that Black Lives Matter across.”
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