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Olympic Gymnastics 2012: Get Ready for Gabby Douglas, America's Sweetheart

Jesse Reed@@JesseReed78Correspondent IAugust 1, 2012

DALLAS, TX - MAY 14:  Gymnast, Gabby Douglas, poses for a portrait during the 2012 Team USA Media Summit on May 14, 2012 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

U.S. Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas is poised to become America's darling, and with a win in the women's all-around on Thursday, she'll do just that.

Douglas is just the kind of athlete sponsors dream about. She's charming, beautiful and talented, and her smile rivals that of retired NBA superstar Magic Johnson. She is delightful in interviews and she puts on dazzling displays of athleticism in her gymnastics routines.

She'd sell a ton of Wheaties cereal boxes, that's for sure.

But, all of this will be forgotten if Douglas fails to bring home the gold medal in the women's all-around. America will treasure her is she wins, but if Douglas doesn't bring home the prize, she'll fade into the hazy background of a thousand other athletes who almost became superstars.

Mary Lou Rhetton is still a name that conjures up memories of triumph. She won the gold way back in 1984, but her victory still seems as fresh today as it did 28 years ago. 

That's the kind of impact Douglas will make if she manages to pull off the same feat. 

There's another aspect of Douglas' ascension that bears mentioning. If she wins, she'll be the first African-American woman to win the gold medal for the all-around. Dominique Dawes was a vital member of the "Magnificent Seven," but she never came close to earning a gold in any individual event in the Olympics, let alone in the all-around.

Dawes is someone Douglas looks up to and admires. In the press conference after the team competitions, via Examiner.com, Douglas was asked whether or not she has Dawes on speed dial, to which she replied:

No, I don't have Dominique Dawes on speed dial, but she's definitely one of my inspirations and role models growing up. I really appreciate meeting her, and she was so nice. Everyone's comparing me to her, and I feel honored to be compared to her.

With a victory in the women's all-around, Douglas will surpass her role model to become the most successful African-American gymnast in history.

Judging by her performances in the women's team competition, Douglas is right where she needs to be to win the all-around. Her biggest obstacle to winning will be her own nerves, and she's shown she's capable of managing them so far.

Stay tuned, America. Douglas is just getting started. 

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