Gabby Douglas' 2012 campaign made her a star entering the Olympics.
“The Flying Squirrel” topped 2011 world champion, and Olympic favorite, Jordyn Wieber at the U.S. Olympic Trials to earn an automatic spot on the team. The performance instantly made her one of the top gymnasts to watch at the London Games.
After helping the U.S. win team gold, the focus would shift to the individual all-around competition.
Douglas started her quest for an individual medal with a 15.966 on the vault to take the early lead. On the uneven bars, Douglas posted a 15.733 and finished third out of all the competitors. On the balance beam, Douglas topped all women with a 15.500 leaving only the floor in her way of gold.
Douglas was third to last on the floor with her chief competition, Russia's Viktoria Komova, competing last. Douglas received a score of 15.033 for her routine and had a solid lead. Komova's routine only managed a 15.100, and the celebration was on.
"Seeing the flag raised and you're on top and the national anthem just playing," says Douglas. "You feel like you’re in a concert. All these flashes ... I'm living on Cloud Nine."
The performance marked the third straight women's all-around gold for the United States. Carly Patterson won in 2004, Nastia Liukin took it in 2008, and now it is Douglas that has the honor of being the best in the world.
This is a feat that has not been accomplished since the event made its Olympic debut. The Soviet Union captured gold in 1952, 1956 and 1960.
Prior to Patterson, Mary Lou Retton was the lone U.S. all-around gold medalist. Now, a winning tradition has been developed. Douglas became the first U.S. gymnast to win both a team and individual gold at the Olympics. A distinction that will cement her place in the history books.
Douglas is also the first African-American medalist in gymnastics.
Dominique Dawes, a member of the Magnificent Seven team of 1996, told USA Today Douglas will have a big impact on minority athletes taking up the sport.
"I know it will have an enormous impact on encouraging African-Americans and other minorities to go into the sport of gymnastics," said Dawes, who is working as an analyst for foxsports.com here.
Douglas' performance will go down as one of the most significant in U.S. gymnastics history. It continued the winning tradition that has been built, and also will extend the reach of the sport to other areas of the U.S.
And she can still bring home more hardware in London. Douglas will compete in the balance beam and uneven bars finals.
Soon, the attention will turn to the 2016 Rio Games, but right now it is time for Douglas to celebrate her historic performance and Team USA's dominance.
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