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August 20, 2014, 2:28 pm

Douglas makes Olympic history

Congratulations to Gabby Douglas, a 16-year-old from Virginia Beach, who won the women’s gymnastics all-around title at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday in London.

Her performance brought her a second gold medal and a place in Olympic history. By winning, she became the first African-American all-around Olympics champion.

Douglas also became the first African-American female gymnast to win any individual Olympic medal since Dominique Dawes took bronze in the floor exercise in 1996.

“She was one of my inspirations and role models growing up,” Douglas said.

Douglas also became the fourth American woman and third consecutive American to win the all-around, after Mary Lou Retton in 1984, Carly Patterson in 2004 and Nastia Liukin in 2008.

Known as “The Flying Squirrel,” Douglas won her second gold medal of the London Games on Tuesday after she and her “Fierce Five” teammates gave the United States its first Olympic title in their sport since 1996.

Douglas is the first American to win gold medals in both team gymnastics and the all-around.

Her performance in the Olympics, her winning personality and her personal story of sacrifice and hard work are an inspiration.

Douglas began training in gymnastics at age six when her older sister Arielle convinced their mother to enroll her in gymnastics classes.

When she was eight, Douglas won an all-around gymnastics award for her level at the 2004 Virginia State Championships.

At age 14, she moved from her home in Virginia Beach to live with a host family in Iowa so she could train with Liang Chow, who was the coach of former world and Olympic champion Shawn Johnson.

She had to overcome homesickness, injuries and fear to become the champion we see today.

“I always tell my daughter to just have fun when she competes,” said Natalie Hawkins, her mother.

“’Fear is crippling; there’s nothing to be afraid of. You’ve trained for this moment. You’re going to be nervous, but let it fuel and feed your desire to go out there and get what you want.’ That has always been the advice that I gave her and she has always risen to the occasion.”

Gabby Douglas rose to the occasion and more. She has made Olympic history and has inspired America.