Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas Speaks at TCNJ

Gabby Douglas might be best known for her high flying flips and her gold medals, but there is so much more to this 23-year-old than what she’s accomplished in the gym. Douglas visited the College on Wed. March 12th to talk about her career and what’s next for the superstar athlete.

Douglas entered the international spotlight during her performances in the 2012 London Summer Olympics, competing in all four team events and leading the Fierce Five to gold medal status. Douglas also took gold in the individual all-around competition. She made history in becoming the first African-American to win gold in both competitions during the same Olympics. Douglas brought home gold again during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio when she competed with the Final Five.

In an interview with Her Campus, Douglas urged other aspiring gymnasts to remember why they love the sport and to not lose yourself in the process. “Make sure you never change yourself for other people and literally just know who you are as a person and carry that with you," she said.

Douglas began her lecture by telling the College crowd more about herself. She is originally from Virginia Beach, Virginia and now lives in L.A. Family is very important to her, and it was Douglas' older sister Arielle who first introduced her to the sport that would change her life. After four years of asking her mom to put her in classes, she finally said yes. “I just fell in love the first day with gymnastics,” says Douglas.

Throughout her years in the public eye, Douglas has dealt with criticism like many female athletes. “For so long, people were telling me I couldn’t do it...and unfortunately I listened to those haters and those doubters,” she said during the Q&A part of the evening. Douglas’ best advice to anyone following their dreams is to ignore the haters. Douglas lives by a quote from Will Smith that says, “The best things in life are waiting on the other side of fear.” Douglas loves this quote because she never wants to have regrets or wonder “what if.”

Courtesy of Victoria Herlocker.

Douglas told HCTCNJ, “I fell in love with gymnastics. I had a huge passion for it. The joy was literally my strength throughout my career," she said.

After training for six hours a day, six times a week, the hard work paid off for Douglas. Now, years after her Olympic victories, she has time to explore new passions. Douglas says one of her interests is acting, and her first role was in an episode of The Vampire Diaries.

When asked about any hidden talents she might have, Douglas told HCTCNJ, “It’s so funny, because I spent my entire life in the gym and so now, I’m just realizing who I am and what I want to do. What I like and what I don’t like. Because so much is determined for us and we do have to grow up very fast,” she continued, “so now I’m like okay, I like music, I like this, I like hiking. I’ve never done it before and so now I’m just learning and growing as an individual.”

Some of Douglas’ favorite foods include a milkshake and fries from Chick-Fil-A or cookies and cream ice cream. Her favorite athlete is Serena Williams, and she says if she wasn’t a gymnast, she would have been an ice skater. Douglas also admitted to watching classic gymnastics shows like Make it or Break it. In addition to these interests, Douglas mentioned she’s tried a few krav maga lessons, a form of martial arts.

She’s also getting involved in lifestyle hobbies like cooking, fashion, and even DIY projects. No matter what her next project is, Gabby continues to show us that she can do it all.

And as for the 2020 Olympics? Douglas says we’ll have to wait and see.