Gymnast Gabrielle (“Gabby”) Douglas continues to capture the world’s attention after earning a second gold medal at the Olympics. On Thursday she became the first African-American to win the prestigious individual all-around gymnastics competition. Gabby shows us that the path to achieving your dreams is paved with self-doubt, loneliness and mistakes. But people like Gabby reach their goals because they overcome any obstacle along their journey, even when they want to throw in the towel. Our team here finds Gabby’s story an inspiration to anyone who is trying to get to a better place in his or her life.
When Gabrielle Douglas was twelve, she asked her mom, Natalie Hawkins, if she could move over 1,000 miles away to be coached by legendary Olympic coach Liang Chow. Her mother said: “no way.”
But Gabby’s persistence led Hawkins to change her mind and in 2010 the young gymnast left her home in Virginia Beach to live in West Des Moines, Iowa, with a host family to help secure her place on the US team.
It hasn’t been easy. Besides being terribly home sick for her close-knit family, Gabby struggled with self-doubt. In an interview with Time she said she would ask the same questions over and over while training to make the US team: “Am I good enough? Can I compete with the best?”
At her first major competition with Chow as her coach — the Visa U.S. national championships — Gabby’s didn’t perform to her potential, falling off the balance beam three times during her minute-and-a-half routine.
Last year, she told her mother she was ready to quit and go home. Once again Hawkins said no way. “Life is not easy. You have to fight and refuse to quit,” Hawkins recalls telling Gabby. While Gabby was initially angry after the conversation but came around saying “I’m gonna stay, Mom. I’m gonna stay and fight for my dream.”
Hawkins says letting go of her daughter was one of the hardest things ever but when it comes to watching her daughter going for the gold, “there’s no greater joy than for a parent to see their child reach their dream.”