Gabby Douglas will attempt to make history at the Rio Olympics by defending her all-around gold medal

By Tiare Dunlap
Updated June 27, 2016 08:00 PM
Jeff Roberson/AP

Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas was just 16 when she made history at the 2012 London Olympics by becoming the first African-American woman to win the all-around title.

Now 20, Douglas is hoping to make history again at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games by becoming the first American gymnast to defend her all-around gold medal this summer.

After placing fourth at the U.S. championships on June 26, all eyes will be on the elite athlete as she attempts to begin a record-breaking comeback at the upcoming Olympic trials.

In the meantime, here are five things to know about the reigning Olympic all-around champion.

1. She doesn’t listen to the haters
Like most young women her age, Douglas is extremely active on social media. While her posts receive thousands of comments, Douglas only pays attention to the positive ones. “When I go on my Instagram or Twitter, for the most part I see comments like “I love you!” or “first like!” or something like that,” she says. “I have no idea where to go and find negative naysayers.”

2. She knows the importance of a cheat day

Douglas says she sticks to a healthy, high-protein diet while training, but she’s looking forward to eating some of her favorite foods the day she ends her Olympic run. “I’m a cheese person,” she says. “But I’m pretty sure they don’t have pizza in the Olympic Village.” Instead, she’ll be on the lookout for one of two other favorites: “I would love to have some fried chicken or mac and cheese!”

3. She only has one pre-competition ritual – meditation

While many athletes take part in extreme rituals or superstitions before meets, competitions or games, Douglas simply likes to clear her mind and focus on a positive attitude. “I love just meditating on scripture,” she says. “The one I love says, ‘I’ve crossed the finish line, I’ve done everything that I’ve done, and now waiting for me is a gold at the end of the day.’ ”

4. Her secret talent is bowling

She may be world-renowned for her abilities in the gym, but she’s no slouch on the lanes, either. “I’m a really good bowler, actually. My high score is 110,” she says. “None of those bumpers!”

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5. She loves giving fans advice

Douglas says she’s has a lot of good moments with fans over the years, but her favorite kind of fan interactions are when she gets to give some guidance. “I love when people share their stories and ask for advice,” she says.

Her favorite words of wisdom come from her own experiences. “I’ve definitely been in that boat where people have doubted me or told me that I couldn’t do it, so I tell people, ‘You know what? Don’t focus on the negative energy. Instead, focus on the positive people supporting you and lifting you up.’ ”

The U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Olympic Trials will take place on July 8 and 10 in San Jose, California.