The tremendous victory by Gabby Douglas serves as an inspiration for so many hopeful African-American children who look to compete, excel, and conquer a sport where the color of their skin has been a rarity. Since World War II, women’s gymnastics have been dominated by Eastern European countries–in fact, an American victory didn’t come into play until 1984. Gabby Douglas is not only the first African American to win the ‘all around,’ but just the fourth American-woman gymnast in history to achieve this remarkable feat.
In 1996, I was only 12 years old when I watched the historic women’s team, the ‘Magnificent Seven,’ win the team gold–and my favorite gymnast Shannon Miller win gold for the balance beam. My childhood-Shannon-Miller-obsession lead to a “scrunchie” phase that allowed me to identify with her, and became my teenybopper attempt to connect with her physical appearance.
16 years later, Gabby Douglas has transported me back in time to that little girl who was fascinated and amazed by the wonder of women’s gymnastics. As an African American, I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of pride to see someone with whom my twelve-year-old self could have instantly identified (no scrunchies necessary).
Gabby’s Gold Medal is a testament that anything is possible if you believe and fight for your dreams. So many Olympians have fulfilled their dreams and stood on the podium to accept their medal–now they step onto a new podium as the world’s most inspirational keynote Olympic Speakers. Gabby Douglas’ amazing story, historic Olympic achievement, and beautiful smile, guarantee her top spot on a future keynote speaker podium.