U.S. gymnast and gold medalist Gabrielle Douglas concentrates before a performance during the artistic gymnastics women’s individual all-around competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
By Avril Ormsby
LONDON, Aug 9 (Reuters) – Gabby Douglas said she just wanted to go home to the United States to see her family and dogs, go to the beach and do a bit of shopping but acknowledged her life would not be the same after she struck gymnastics gold at London 2012.
The bubbly 16-year-old, who is enjoying her status as her country’s newest sweetheart, said she felt “honored” to be the first African American to win an Olympic title in the women’s gymnastics individual all-round event.
“For me going down in history being the first black American to win the gold, I think more colored people are going to start coming to the gymnastics world and say ‘ok anything is possible. If Gabby did it, then I can do it’,” she said.
“I feel so honored.”
When asked about her sweetheart status, Douglas, brimming with youthful confidence, said: “I think it sits very well.
“It is definitely fitting because everyone just says they love my smile, so why not use it on the floor.
“I was kinda America’s sweetheart leading into the Games, which made me feel so good, you know, that America loved me.”
She said she had been the underdog, and “America always loves an underdog”, but London 2012 had been a great journey for her.
“I’m going to get home and there’s going to be so many fans and I heard cameras and camera crews at the airport waiting for me, and it is going to change in a big way,” she added.
Douglas has already been courted by royalty, and tennis player Serena Williams is a big fan of hers.
“I met Kate (Middleton), the Duchess (of Cambridge), and that was a cool experience for me because she loved our leos (leotards),” Douglas said.
The Duchess of Cambridge, wife of the second-in-line to the British throne, had watched the gymnastics and congratulated the American team.
“That was definitely a good experience to go home and say, ‘you know what, I met the Duchess’,” she said.
The youngster has not yet achieved everything she set out to do at London 2012. She admitted she had failed to meet sprint champion Usain Bolt in the Olympic Village.
“We wanted to meet him so bad,” she said.