In August, gymnast Gabrielle Douglas (pictured left) made millions worldwide fall in love with her, after she flew through the air with her wide smile and bright eyes and nabbed the most-coveted gold medal at the London Olympics. On Tuesday, Douglas’ new memoir, “Grace, Gold & Glory: My Leap of Faith,” will be released, providing a greater lens in to both Douglas’ triumphs and tribulations, according to the NY Daily News.
While Douglas will go down in history books as the first African-American woman to win the prestigious individual all-around gold, just one year ago, Douglas attempted to walk away from the sport. According to excerpts from her memoir, the incessant training and racism she faced caused Douglas to tell family members that she had lost the “passion” for the sport and “just wanted to be a normal teenage kid.”
“I can get a job at Chick-Fil-A in Virginia Beach and live off the 14-grand I just won at World Championships,” Douglas writes in “Grace, Gold & Glory.”
Even though Douglas’ mother, Natalie Hawkins (pictured above), responded, “You’re breaking my heart,” it was Douglas’ big brother, John, who would encourage her to stay the course.
But struggling with whether she should continue to train wasn’t her only conundrum.
The issues she had with her father didn’t make her journey any easier. According to Douglas, even though her father, Sgt. Timothy Douglas, was serving in Afghanistan while she won the biggest medal of any gymnast’s career, her father hadn’t been in her life since 2001.
Adding insult to injury was Timothy’s assertion to reporters that he had always supported her, “Dad began telling the media how he always supported me in my gymnastics career,” Gabby writes. “The truth is that he didn’t.”
Instead, it was Gabby’s mother who held down the family for her and her three siblings.
Another inconvenient truth was the racism Gabby faced throughout her career. In her memoir, Gabby recalls a coach telling her at age 12 that she needed a nose job, prompting fellow teammates to wonder how she “could breathe out of her flat nose,” according to the NY Daily News.
The incident caused Gabby to ask her mother one day — without disclosing the insults she was enduring — “Am I pretty, Mom?” to which her mom gave a resounding, “Yes.”
At the time, Gabby says she didn’t file a report about the incident out of fear.
Since Gabby’s decisive win, many of her past struggles are dwarfed by her newfound success and opportunities. In the four months since she returned from London, Gabby has met President Barack Obama, made cameos on the show “Vampire Diaries,” and appeared on the VMAs. Gabby told People that life “[has] been really fun.”
As she continues to enjoy her break from training, Gabby spends much of her time hanging with her teammates. Her favorite time, though, is with her family, “I’m so thankful for them,” says Douglas. “I feel so blessed.