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Gabby Douglas talks of racism at ex-gym

Jill Treacy

Gabby Douglas talks of bullying and racial slurs at Virginia training facility.

Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas reveals rough memories at Virginia Beach gym.


Gabby Douglas, America’s Olympic sweetheart, admitted to heartache behind that big smile on the Oprah Winfrey show Oprah’s Next Chapter this past Sunday. The 16 year-old Olympic gold medalist recently returned to the US after the London Summer Olympics 2012 and while making her celebrity rounds, Douglas sat down with Oprah to discuss her rocky training past.

During the Olympic games, Gabby Douglas had admitted moving to Des Moines, Iowa only two years ago to train in Liang Chow’s gym, where Olympic medalist Shawn Johnson also trained. She claimed she was unhappy training in her gym in Virginia Beach, Va., her mom and sister have talked of how Douglas begged to move to a new facility.

But, why?

Gabby Douglas, the first African American to win the All-Around gold medal for gymnastic, revealed particularly painful memories of bullying teammates and racial slurs.

“One of my teammates was like, ‘Can you scrape the bar?’ And they were like, ‘Why doesn’t Gabby do it, she’s our slave?’” she told Winfrey. “I definitely felt isolated, I felt ‘why am I deserving this? Is it because I’m black?’”

Her mother, Natalie Hawks, remembered her daughter coming home upset over the comments, saying “She said, ‘I’d rather quit—if I can’t move and train and get another coach, I’d rather quit the sport.’”

The move to Iowa proved a good idea as Douglas went on to win two gold medals at this summer’s Olympics, one with the U.S. Women’s Gymnastic Team and the other in the All-Around category.

CEO of Excalibur Gymnastics Gustavo Maure has called her comments “hurtful and without merit,” according to E! News. Maure claims of Exaclibur, Douglas’ previous training facility in Virginia Beach, that “Thousands of gymnasts and families have supported our good conduct and our professionalism the last 30 years.”

Either way, Gabby Douglas has nothing to look forward to if not a bright future following her Olympic glory.

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