US gymnast Gabrielle Douglas shone on Thursday when she won the individual all-around Olympic title at the North Greenwich Arena.
Two days after winning gold with the US women team, Douglas made history by becoming the first African-American individual all-around champion. With the latter title under her belt, the 16-year old from Virginia joins the select club of former Olympians Mary Lou Retton (1984), Carly Patterson (2004) and Nastia Liukin (2008).
Douglas is also the first American gymnast to win both team and all-around gold at the Olympics.
In a head-to-head battle with her Russians opponents Viktoria Komova, Aliya Mustafina as well as fellow US team mate Aly Raisman, Douglas was calm and fully focused on her objective. She rocked the event starting with a 15.966 score on the vault, flying gracefully over the uneven bars and earning 15.733 points. Next was the beam, which the "Flying Squirrel" (Douglas’ nickname) simply owned with a 15.500.
Douglas ended the day with a solid floor performance that added 15.033 more points to her total score of 62.232, earning the most precious medal.
World uneven bars champion Komova kept it tight with a good vaulting and a strong result on the bars 15.966, a bit below Mustafina’s 16.100. Mustafina’s hope for gold didn’t last for too long after her fall off the bars. After Komova got her floor exercise score and was announced as silver medallist, the tiny Russian burst into tears.
Meanwhile, Raisman lost the bronze to Mustafina after tiebreak. Both had a total of 59.566 points before their smaller scores were dropped. The American had to bow eventually in front of the Russian for a difference of .567.
Impressed beyond words and tears with Douglas’ incredible breakthrough, Dominique Dawes, who also won gold with the US team in Atlanta back in 1996, said: “Being first always makes it more important. I was first, but the big difference with Gabby is she’ll have a gold team and her own gold. It’s huge. Huge.”
Flashing a dazzling smile and just being a happy kid, Douglas turns a new page in the Olympic history and becomes America’s new gymnastics sweetheart. With her trainer’s words in mind, she just did what she had to do: “He told me my training will not go in vain. So there I was, just cruising and now I am on cloud nine."