Fresh from her historic gold medal win in the Olympic gymnastics individual all-around, Gabby Douglas talks about the hard work and sacrifice it took to get there and about making history as the first African-American woman to win the all-around title.
When U.S. Olympian Gabby Douglas broke into the record books Thursday by becoming the first African-American woman to win the all-around gymnastics gold, it was a moment of glory that wasn’t reached without a lot of sacrifice.
Douglas told TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie on Friday that she hasn’t stopped smiling since standing on her podium to accept her medal. “I could barely sleep last night,” she said.
Douglas credits her coach, Liang Chow, with helping her focus. She began training with him when she was 14, moving from her home in Virginia Beach, Va., to be closer to his gym in West Des Moines, Iowa. She lived in Des Moines with a host family and trained alongside 2008 Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson.
“I just want people to know it took a lot," she said. "It took a lot of hard days in the gym and determination, passion and drive. Gold medals are made out of your sweat, blood and tears, and effort in the gym every day, and sacrificing a lot that you have to do.”
When Douglas hit the competition floor Thursday, Chow provided a reassuring presence during the finals.
"I remember Chow telling me just stay calm, remain focused and the results will come up by themselves,” she said.
Douglas thrilled the crowd with her radiant smile, impressive tumbling and mastery of everything from the balance beam to the uneven bars. Her score of 62.232 kept her at the top of the leader board, and she kept an eye on it as her competitors completed their routines.
“I was like, 'Okay, do I have the gold, do I have the silver, what do I have?''' she said. "And it was a crucial moment. My heart was just pounding, and it was definitely nerve wracking. I was like, 'OK, do I have it, do I not?'”
She had it, and is honored to make history. Her victory also marked the first time the U.S. women have ever won the team gold and the individual all-around gold in the same Olympics.
“It’s so meaningful to be the first African-American to win the all-around gold medal in the individual and making the history books is definitely one of the perks,'' she said. "It just feels amazing.”
In a week that has brought two gold medals, she also received a very special invitation. After Douglas and her team won gold earlier in the week they got a call from President Barack Obama. “He was just telling us that he was so proud of us and keep up the good work, and we should come visit him at the White House sometime,” she said.
She has received another familiar perk of Olympic stars - her image now graces the front of a Kellogg's Corn Flakes box.