Gabby Douglas said that on her way to the women’s all-around competition at the London Olympics she had a good feeling.
“I was on the bus and it was raining and I thought, ‘It’s going to be a great day,’ ” Douglas, 16, told PEOPLE on Thursday after winning the all-around gold medal. “My mom used to tell me when I was little, ‘When it rains, it’s God’s manifestation, a big day’s waiting to happen.’ “
“I texted my mom, ‘It’s raining. You know what that means.’ “
Gabby who is known “The Flying Squirrel,” won the Gold in the individual competition. She received this two days after she won the team gold medal alongside Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Kyla Ross and Jordyn Wieber.
Douglas told reporters, “The all-around matters to me. People keep saying I’m the first black American to win the [all-around] gold medal so I [thought], yeah, I forgot about that. It was amazing. I feel so honored. … It’s a barrier-breaker, and I think that it just says something more about it.”
She was also pleasantly surprised to learn another bit of trivia about herself. Told by a reporter that she is the only American to have gold medals in both the team competition and the all-around, Douglas replied: “Oh, wow. You learn something new every day.”
An Unlikely Journey
Douglas’s coach, Liang Chow (who also coached Olympic medalist Shawn Johnson), says he did not anticipate having a decorated Olympian on his hands when Douglas, only 14 years old, moved to Iowa by herself to train with him.
Neither did Douglas. “When I look back and think about it now, wow, everything is possible,” says the gymnast. “I moved to Iowa and there were a lot of sacrifices, but they pay off.”
Chow says”I think she’s improved,” . “Before, many people were worried about her mental toughness and I think, especially today, that demonstrates that she can handle the toughest jobs.” He adds that his athlete made a “wonderful effort, wonderful performance under huge pressure for a 16 year old.”
Team coordinator Marta Karolyi repeated those sentiments.
“She did so great improvement that it’s incredible in this short time,” said Karolyi. “I haven’t seen any gymnast from an average, good gymnast five months ago, to climb up to the best in world. That’s the truth.”
Taking It All In
Standing atop the podium was something of a surreal moment for Douglas, who edged out Russian frontrunners Victoria Komova and Aliya Mustafina for the gold.
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