With an effusive personality that gleamed through her near-constant smile, Gabby Douglas gave the world a hint of what’s in store when she competes Thursday for the all-around gold in women’s gymnastics at the London 2012 Olympics.
The only member of the gold-medal winning Team USA to compete in all four events Tuesday night, she had the best composite score – 61.465 – of any individual. She turned in the top U.S. score on the balance beam. On the uneven bars – the apparatus that gave her the nickname “Flying Squirrel” – she finished with a solid 15.233
She competes in the all-around finals at 10:30 a.m. Thursday (4:30 p.m. London time). NBC, which has exclusive U.S. broadcast rights, will air the competition beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Douglas moved to West Des Moines two years ago to train with Liang Chow, who coached West Des Moines native Shawn Johnson to gold four years ago at Chow’s Gymnastics and Dance Institute.
“I don’t think we wanted to settle for less,” Douglas told the Des Moines Register’s Mark Emmert Tuesday after she and her teammates – dubbed The Fab Five and, some according to some observers after seeing the team’s athletic prowess, the Fierce Five – won the gold medal in women’s gymnastics.
“We wanted to go out there and be aggressive, and be strong and courageous, and not be afraid. So we went out there and did that. And it feels awesome to be champions,” she told the Register.
Douglas was awesome to watch, according to media accounts.
The Miami Herald called Douglas “a bouncing ball of fire.” Fox Sports, calling Douglas “America’s sweetheart,” said “she whipped off a series of backflips as if she was still on the ground.”
And The Associated Press said “she got so much height on her Amanar it’s a wonder she didn’t bump her head on the overhead camera. She hit the mat with tremendous force yet didn’t so much as wiggle, triumphantly thrusting her arms in the air as she saluted the judges.”
It was Team USA’s first team gold medal in women’s gymnastics since 1996, and only its second ever. The Americans beat their closest competitor, always strong Russia, by more than five points.
Coach John Geddert told the Register that this year’s team – which also includes Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney – is the best the United States has ever had.
“This is the best team of all time. You can quote me on that,” Geddert said “Others might disagree. The ’96 team might disagree with me. But difficulty-wise, consistency-wise, definitely USA’s finest.”