Thursday was a banner day for the United States Olympic team. From the triumphs in the pool, to a record breaking performance on the basketball court, to a wonderful story of perseverance and overcoming tragedy to make history in judo.
But, they were all upstaged by a 16-year old.
Gabby Douglas had already made a name for herself as part of the highly decorated U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team. As part of the “fierce five”, she came into these games expecting to get at least one medal (gold in the team competition) as well as compete for a medal in the all-around.
She did more than just compete for that medal. In Thursday’s all-around competition, Douglas outclassed the field hitting just about everything in her routines. She finished a couple of tenths ahead of Victoria Komova of Russia to claim the gold.
Winning the women’s all-around puts Douglas in some great company. In the 60 year history of the event, three women had won gold for the U.S. prior to today: Mary Lou Retton, Carly Patterson and Nastia Liukin. All of those women, in particular Retton, have a special place in U.S. Olympic history. These are the best of the best. And now Douglas has joined them. But, there is one thing that sets her apart from the rest… Douglas is African-American.
An African-American had never won all-around gold in men’s or women’s gymnastics before Douglas. In fact, there have been very few African-American’s to even compete in gymnastics much less the all-around competition. What Douglas did was magnificent.
How will this affect the popularity of gymnastics in the African-American community? Nobody knows. You will hear a lot of people talk about what this will do for the sport, but no one really knows. And that’s not the important matter. What matters is she won and made history. Let’s just praise that.
The Good in Sports congratulates Gabby Douglas on her gold medal and hopes she claims many more.