Why Gabby Douglas Almost Quit Before the Olympics
How has your faith shaped you?
It has been a lifelong thing. My mom has always exposed me and my siblings to Christianity. I take my Bible with me, sometimes two of them, when I travel. I've watched myself at the Olympics, I watched the all-around finals, my grandfather DVR'ed it, and I saw my mouth moving—that was me praying. I always pray at every competition, when the judge's hand goes up I am praying, and there are little Scriptures I like to quote. That keeps me motivated when I am about to go out on the competition floor. I would say little short prayers, quoting Scriptures: I can do all things through Christ, don't fear, be courageous. Little things like that get me motivated.
What was it like to discover that your host family in Iowa told Coach Chow that they were willing to be a second home for an out-of-town gymnast, should there be a need, A few months later, there you were.
God works in mysterious ways. To have God lay on Travis's and Missy's hearts to host someone. Missy, my host mom, had lost her mom to cancer, and Travis said to me, that God loved us so much, that he brought me to their lives to help fill the void.
Has success since the Olympics changed you?
Absolutely not. I am still the same Gabby Douglas I was when I entered the Olympics, and had my last competition since the Olympics. I am still the same girl.
You mention in your book a competition where you did not win. When you don't win, are you still being blessed by God?
After the 2011 Visa Championships, I fell five times in the competition, and I told my mom, "I don't get it. Why didn't God answer my prayer?" Now I realize that even if I don't win, I am still blessed to be given this talent to be able to compete. It's all about perspective. It's been my mom's advice: Even if you don't win, you are still a fighter, you are still a champion. It motivated me when I was down, to get back into the gym and be on fire.
You've spoken of being the target of bullying and racism in your gym in Virginia and also growing up. How did you deal with that?
It was a long time ago. It was very painful to be made fun of, but I have a forgiving heart, I forgive them, and I've moved past that.
What's next, and are the Olympics on that agenda?
I am going back home to Virginia, and then in late spring, I get back into the gym in Iowa to continue to train with Chow for Rio. I will stay with the same host family. I hope to make the Olympics team in 2016. It would be thrilling to come back and do it again.
Cornelia Becker Seigneur is an Oregon-based journalist, author of two books, and faculty adviser for MUSE student publication at Multnomah University. Reach her at www.corneliaseigneur.com.