Saturday, August 4, 2012


United States gymnast Gabby Douglas showcases her gold medal from the
individual all-around event. (Photo by Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports)

At the age of 16, Gabby Douglas realized her dream as an Olympic gold medalist by becoming the first black woman ever to win gold in the individual all-round event in women’s gymnastics.

At a time where many teenage girls are thinking about surviving high school, getting into a good college and hoping to avoid being on MTV’s “16 and Pregnant”, Douglas is busy making history and being a role model.

“It is everything I thought it would be; being the Olympic champion, it definitely is an amazing feeling,” Douglas said after her win in the all-arounds. “And I give all the glory to God. It’s kind of a win-win situation. The glory goes up to Him and the blessings fall down on me.”

Just 16 years ago, when Douglas was just a few months old, another young black gymnast was part of a squad that also warmed the hearts of Americans.

Dominique Dawes was the first black gymnast to receive a medal
from an individual event in the Olympics. (Photo from Corbis)
Dominique Dawes played a huge role on the “Magnificent Seven”—the name given to the U.S. gymnastics team from the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta that won a gold medal as a team. Dawes would also win an individual bronze on the floor routine.

It was with that accomplishment that Dawes became the first black gymnast—male or female—to win an individual medal of any kind.

“There are girls who come up to me and say that it is because of me that they are involved in gymnastics,” Dawes said in an article on in 2008. “I hear that a lot and each time, I am flattered.”

Now, Dawes is a co-chairman (along with New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees) for the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition along with working as a co-host for Yahoo! Weekend News and an writer for

Past meets present. The question is...who's next for the future?
But she also felt the emotions of Douglas’ groundbreaking win.

“I am so thrilled for Gabby,” Dawes said in an interview with FOX Sports. “…I’m so thrilled to change my website and take down the fact that I was the only African American with a gold medal.”

With her accomplishments, Douglas joins Dawes and other gymnasts such as Mary Lou Retton and Nadia Comaneci in possibly inspiring a young girl to be the next great gymnast in the future.

“That’s so touching,” Dawes said. “As I was able to help Gabby, now she’s going to help a whole other generation of young girls and boys, African Americans, Hispanics, [and] other minorities to see the sport of gymnastics as an opportunity for them to excel.”

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