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Black Gymnast Is Top Olympic Contender

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

According to an informal survey, 90 percent of African Americans in their 20s and 30s today were in awe of or in love with Dominique Dawes around the time she competed in three Olympic Games in the 1990s.


Today, with what the Associated Press calls "cover girl looks, a personality that leaps through the TV set and a nickname [the Flying Squirrel] you won't soon forget," 16-year-old gymnast Gabby Douglas — who's expected to be chosen for this year's Olympic team — might just follow in her footsteps as one of gymnastics' next big stars, not to mention the black community's next collective athletic crush.

When Gabby Douglas flashes that dazzling smile and saunters across the arena floor as if she owns the place, the concept seems downright impossible.

This bubbly 16-year-old was once … shy?

"I used to be sooo shy," she said with a giggle. "Now I'm like, 'Lah, lah, lah. Lah, lah, lah … I'm just ready to go out there and perform. I'm so ready to take on this journey.”

It's going to be quite a trip.

Not only has Douglas emerged as world champion Jordyn Wieber's main rival, finishing a mere 0.2 points behind at the U.S. gymnastics championships two weeks ago, she could be the brightest star on a powerful U.S. team that could turn the London Olympics into its own heavy medal show …

The U.S. team will be picked Sunday, following the Olympic trials in San Jose, Calif. Barring an injury, Douglas is considered a lock for London along with Wieber and Aly Raisman. In addition to the team competition and all-around, Douglas has medal potential on uneven bars, where her release moves are so big and effortless that national team coordinator Martha Karolyi has dubbed her the "Flying Squirrel."


Read more at the Washington Post.

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