Gabby Douglas: Having Setbacks on the Road to Rio 'Motivates Me Even More'
At just 20 years old, Olympic Gold medalist Gabby Douglas is planning the comeback of her life.
The gymnast from Virginia Beach, Virginia was just 16 years old when she made history by becoming the first American gymnast to earn the individual all-around title and lead her team to gold at the 2012 London Olympics. Four years later, she’s hoping to make history again by becoming the first American gymnast to successfully defend her gold medal since 1968 at the 2016 Rio Games this summer. But first, she’ll have to nail her routines at the Olympic Trials this Friday and Sunday.
“Trying to make it happen again is definitely a lot of hard work and pushing myself every day a lot of dedication but it’s worth it,” Douglas tells PEOPLE in an interview for Citi’s #StandforProgress campaign. “My mind is doing great and my body’s doing awesome.”
“I had a few mistakes but I’m moving on,” Douglas says. “To be honest it just motivates me even more.”
Since this less-than-stellar outcome, Douglas has been training even harder for this week’s Olympic Trials. While some have questioned if Douglas’s age will prove to be a liability (she has grown three inches since her last Olympics), she sees her years of experience as making her better prepared for a second Olympic run.
“I do feel more mentally prepared than last time and I think it’s because I’ve matured and grown up and the experience has helped me a lot,” she says.
Douglas faces a fierce rival for the all-around individual gold, with four-time national gymnastics champion Simone Biles widely expected to take home the top honor. Still, Douglas says she and her probable teammate are far from enemies off the mat.
“We encourage one another and we’re not like catty and immature we just go out there and handle our business,” she says. “We’re doing our jobs and at the end of the day we’re going to support each other no matter what.”
Despite the comparisons, Douglas says her ultimate motivator is herself. “I drive myself to do better. That comes from within me,” she says.
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