Gabby Douglas has told Oprah Winfrey that she overcame several challenges to win two Olympic gold medals - including racist slurs from her fellow gymnasts. On her way to wins at London 2012 (at which she became the first African-American gymnast to win individual gold), the 16-year-old almost gave it all up.
During an interview with Oprah, Gabby said she was tormented at her gym in Virginia Beach, saying, "I was just, you know, kind of getting racist jokes, kind of being isolated from the group. So it was definitely hard. I would come home at night and just cry my eyes out". She recalled one shocking example of racism, saying, "One of my teammates was like, 'Could you scrape the bar? And they were like, 'Why doesn't Gabby do it, she's our slave? I was the only African-American at that gym.I definitely felt isolated. Why am I deserving this? Is it because I'm black? - those thoughts were going through my mind". Gabby appeared on Oprah's show on Sunday (August 26, 2012) with her mother, Natalie Hawks, who recalled how her daughter told her about the cruel torments, saying, "She said, 'I'd rather quit - if I can't move and train and get another coach, I'd rather quit the sport".
Gabby's mother decided to do something about it, and moved to Iowa to enable her daughter to train with a new coach. The rest is history.