Time to put things in perspective.
Gabby Douglas was a super talent who rose to Elite status at Excalibur Gymnastics in Virginia Beach, one of the top clubs in the States with many National Team members.
Gabby left the club. A move to Chows in Iowa was difficult for her at times. And disappointing for her former coaches, friends & teammates left behind.
Sad. But these things happen. Many gymnasts end up moving clubs over the course of their careers for all kinds of reasons.
The most detailed & well written version of Gabby’s story I just read in the October issue of Vanity Fair:
America’s Golden Girl by Buzz Bissinger – Photographs by Jonas Fredwall Karlsson
The move worked. Chow’s patient coaching over fewer than 24 months took her to the very top.
The story reads that Gabby was inspired to train with Chow when she worked with him at a camp at Excalibur. Fact is the family checked a number of gyms in the USA, including WOGA, before deciding on Chows.
Still … hers is a wonderful success story. One of the best rivalries of the Olympics was Gabby v Viktoria Komova.
Happy ending for USA.
Unfortunately, in that Vanity Fair interview in London, her Mom, Natalie, “does not hold back” when asked about the reasons for leaving Virginia Beach. It’s one of the main themes.
Natalie recounts problems at the old gym. And episodes later told her by Gabby. All examples of reasons why her daughter wanted to move. Or quit.
Of many other interviews, Oprah was the biggest. Oprah didn’t become the highest paid entertainer in the world by airing boring interviews.
If you somehow missed the controversy, here’s a recap on Slate.
How did she get there from here?
That kind of press is not good for Gabrielle Douglas. And it’s devastating for Excalibur.
Somebody should have been advising the family not to be drawn into controversial statements.
Most online jumped to defend Gabby & her Mom. Many also blaming Excalibur. Lauren Hopkins on Couch Gymnast, for example.
A few, including Triple Twist, and myself, questioned some of the charges made against Excalibur.
The focus on racial discrimination inside a gymnastics club makes little sense to me. That gym has many African American gymnasts
that, several of whom spoke in defense of the program.
There is less racism inside a gymnastics club than anywhere else in town.
Indeed, her Mom — after Oprah blew up — tried to clarify on the Wil Laveist radio show. It was more bullying than racism. An excellent interviewer.
Now is not the time to tear down. Now is the time to build up.
That makes far more sense. Some kids certainly did envy her gymnastics, and might have said mean things.
What happens next?
… I hope it’s over. The worst of the damage done — folks in the general public thinking that racism is a major problem in Gymnastics. We’ve got problems, but endemic racism isn’t one of the worst.
We hope Gabby goes on to have a terrific Kellogg’s Tour. And a terrific career as an Olympic Champion. Gabby’s a wonderful athlete. And a great personality.
I hope she and her family can one day come to some sort of resolution with Excalibur.
That’s the 1% downside.