Gabrielle Douglas Makes History with Gymnastics All-Around Gold Medal
The nail-biting competition concludes in London Gabby is the new golden girl
After winning the team final earlier in the Games, USA golden girls Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas and Aly Raisman had another shot at glory Thursday in the women’s all-around competition.
With Russian frontrunners Aliya Mustafina and Viktoria Komova also vying for the most coveted prize in women’s gymnastics, the exciting competition came down to the final routines.
After the first rotation on vault, 16-year-old Douglas sat in the top spot in the standings … and she never gave up that rank, winning the all-around gold medal!
An uncharacteristic and major error on beam left Raisman in fourth place behind Komova (silver) and Mustafina (bronze).
Raisman and Mustafina completed with identical scores, but in the event of such a tie, judges use the sum of the athletes’ highest three scores for the tie-breaker.
“I feel sad because I was so close to getting a medal,” Raisman told PEOPLE afterward. “But it is what it is – and I’m still fourth in the world so that’s definitely something I can be proud of.”
With Komova on her tail throughout all four events, Douglas pulled out the win with a total score of 62.232. It was a pressure-packed fight to the finish and an even more exciting victory for the gymnast who used to struggle with consistency, especially in big meets.
Douglas watched the scoreboard with a serious expression and cried when she saw the result, waving to the crowd.
Her win comes on the heels of another big victory for her: taking home the team gold medal Tuesday with the rest of the “Fab Five: Raisman, McKayla Maroney, PEOPLE.com blogger Jordyn Wieber and Kyla Ross.
The ever-likeable Douglas (who won PEOPLE’s favorite of the Fab Five poll) was the only gymnast on the team to compete in all four events of the team final.
But Douglas’s win in the women’s all-around gymnastics competition on Thursday did more than just secure her another gold medal. It earned her a special place in history.
Douglas is the first African-American woman to win gold in the women’s all-around. Her name has often been mentioned alongside that of gold medal-winning 1996 team member Dominique Dawes (who won team gold), but Douglas doesn’t mind the comparison.
“She’s definitely one of my inspirations and role models growing up,” Douglas said in a press conference Tuesday. “Everyone’s comparing me to her, and I feel honored to be compared to her.”
And Raisman was thrilled for Douglas, telling PEOPLE, “I’m really happy for her. She’s been working really hard so she deserves it and I’m really excited for her.”
Though she’s got two gold medals under her narrow belt already, Douglas may not be done winning. She’s still got the individual finals to go on balance beam and uneven bars – her best event.
Tell us in comments: Do you think Douglas will win more gold for Team USA?
• Reporting by SIMON PERRY