Sixteen-year-old Gabby Douglas knows what it takes to reach her goals. When she was just 14, the pint-sized gymnast left her close-knit family in Virginia Beach to move to Iowa to train with a world-renowned coach.
“It definitely has made me stronger and more mature,” says Douglas. “And it’s temporary. I’m not going to be away from them forever.”
Douglas hopes her sacrifice will pay off at this weekend’s Olympic Trials, where she hopes to score a spot on the team.
Dubbed “the Flying Squirrel” by Marta Karolyi, the U.S. team coordinator, Douglas’ best event is the uneven bars, traditionally a weak spot for Americans.
Since bursting on the scene, Douglas has emerged as one of the top contenders this year. She finished just 0.2 points behind the reigning world champion Jordyn Wieber two weeks ago and could help the Americans win big at this year’s games in London.
Although she says she was once shy, the teen dynamo seems poised for the spotlight.
“I used to be sooo shy,” she told the Associated Press. “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.”