As if the rigors of intense gymnastics training weren’t stressful enough, Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas says she also dealt with bullying by her teammates so troubling that it almost drove her to quit the sport.
In an interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired Sunday on Oprah’s Next Chapter, Gabby told the host that, before she moved to Iowa to work with coach Liang Chow, she felt isolated at her Virginia Beach gym and was even called a “slave” by fellow gymnasts. From Us Weekly:
Now 16 and in possession of two gold medals, Douglas (with mom Natalie Hawkins) told Oprah Winfrey on Sunday’s Oprah’s Next Chapter about the less-than-ideal atmosphere at a local gym. “One of my teammates was like, ‘Can you scrape the bar?’ And they were like, ‘Why doesn’t Gabby do it, she’s our slave?'”
“I definitely felt isolated, I felt why am I deserving this? Is it because I’m black? Those thoughts would go through my mind,” said the champ, who became the first-ever African-American to win the coveted All-Around trophy. The teasing got so bad that, at age 14, Douglas threatened to quit the sport altogether if they couldn’t move away and find a new coach.
“I felt like I was bullied and isolated from the group, and they treated me not how they would treat the other teammates,” Douglas admitted.
Indeed, Douglas eventually did move to Des Moines, Iowa, in order to train at Liang Chow’s gym, where fellow Olympic champ Shawn Johnson trained.
Watch a clip of the interview here:
It’s a story that makes her rise to success even more impressive.
Read more at Us Weekly.