Gabrielle Douglas captured countless hearts at the 2012 Olympic Games, where she became the first African American to win the women's gymnastics individual all-around. Just 16, she dazzled during the gold-winning women's gymnastics team competition. But fewer spectators know of the Virginia native's difficult upbringing—and that faith in Christ helped get her through it.
Douglas recounts her childhood and hard-won athletic triumph in her new memoir, Grace, Gold & Glory: My Leap of Faith, newly out from Zondervan. Christianity Today contributor Cornelia Becker Seigneur spoke with Douglas about how she almost quit gymnastics, why she included her dad in the book, and why she credits God for it all—even when she loses.
What's behind the title of your new book?
Grace is the beauty of the sport, it's graceful, and also the grace of God. Gold means going for your dreams and achieving them. Glory means all the glory goes up to God. "My leap of faith" is about overcoming obstacles such as moving to Iowa [to train], being away from my family, and injuries.
You write that seven months before the Olympics, you were so homesick you wanted to quit gymnastics to move back home to Virginia and work at Chick-fil-A in Virginia Beach.
No one knew that about me, but yeah, I wanted to quit and try a different sport like track and field. I was really homesick and wanted to go home.
What turned you around?
My mom, my coach, my sister, my host family—everyone told me to keep fighting, that the Olympics were right around the corner. And my brother John. He and I are so close in age, we are like two peas in a pod. He kept telling me to keep fighting and pushing along. A couple days ...