Olympic gold medal winner and gymnast extraordinaire Gabby Douglas reveals in the October issue of Vanity Fair Magazine that she was once told by a staffer at an elite gym to consider having reconstructive surgery on her nose because of its “flatness.”
Douglas was only 8-years-old she enrolled at the prestigious Excalibur Gymnastics in Virginia Beach. The highly regarded program has trained many top-performing athletes and produced 11 national team members but no Olympians. According to Douglas, she told Vanity Fair that the nose comments were “very hurtful,” but the emotional pain didn’t stop there.
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In addition to having her nose criticized and being teased about her appearance, Douglas was also allegedly called a “slave” and claims she was subjected to racist jokes by other gymnasts. She recently chatted with talk maven Oprah Winfrey on her OWN cable show “Oprah’s Next Chapter” and revealed some scary truths.
“One of my teammates was like, ‘Can you scrape the bar? And they were like, ‘Why doesn’t Gabby do it, she’s our slave?’”
“I felt like I was bullied and isolated from the group, Gabby said, “and they treated me not how they would treat the other teammates.”
“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.”
After the nose job comment at Excalibur, the experience soured and disillusioned Douglas to the point where she began to lose confidence in her abilities and could never get back to being in sync with her coaches. Douglas had sunken to her lowest point and almost thought about calling it quits on her life-long ambition after her unsavory treatment at the gym.
When Douglas did part company with Excalibur six years later, it was sour grapes on both sides. According to Dena Walker, the Girls Team Director at Excalibur, Douglas’ claims are “a joke,” and she also contends that the 16-year-old never complained about any of her alleged racial bias incidences. Walker told Vanity Fair that “coaches at the gym, which has been home to many African-American athletes, are on the lookout for racial animus and tale action should something happen.”
Hmmm…now where have we heard that party line before?