Before and After the Gold: An Interview with Gabby Douglas

Gabby Douglas wowed the world at the 2012 Summer Olympics when she won the gold medal in both the team and the individual all-around competitions and she hasn’t stopped wow-ing us since, especially this summer at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The whirlwind of fame that comes along with the medals and the fame has led to countless interviews, thousands of fans, a book, and now… a movie! Gabby’s life was made into a movie by Lifetime and you can watch the whole thing online here.

With all the fame you’d think Gabby would be too-cool-for-everything. But she’s an incredibly down-to-earth, God-loving, young woman who’s not that different from you (or mostly me I guess… considering she loves listening to T-Swift and eating Chick-Fil-A which are two of my favorite pastimes).

After her movie just came out, she had some time to answer some questions about her life, how she’s gotten through trials, and what she hopes you take away from the movie. Check it out below!

Can you tell me about your faith journey? When did you become a Christian and how has that relationship with God impacted both your life and your gymnastics?

G: You know, faith plays a big role in my life and it started when I was very young. My mom involved my siblings and I in the faith – she introduced us to the Bible and taught us about Jesus and it’s been a part of my life for such a long time… we do Bible studies and if you watch the Olympics footage or any footage and you can see my mouth moving — that’s me praying. I always have to pray before a competition.

Has anyone ever made fun of you for your belief in God or for praying?

G: Not that I’ve really come across. A lot of people have been coming up to me and saying thank you for saying all the stuff that you did about your faith. If someone’s going through that then I’d tell them pay no mind to that person who’s making fun of you. Keep to your own resolve and whatever works for you just keep doing it and who knows? Maybe down the road if you’re praying you can inspire other teens to pray or say motivational things to help them.

You’ve struggled sometimes with being bullied and have had some hard times. What advice would you give to somebody who maybe feels defeated or feels like others are trying to hold them down to make themselves better?

G: If they’re being bullied I’d tell them to speak up, tell an adult or a friend and if you feel like you’ve been defeated just keep going. And I know that may sound like, “What, keep going? But I’m so down.”

I had a point in my life when I had my ups and downs and six months before the Olympics I wanted to quit because I was at my lowest point and I was homesick and things in the gym were getting really hard for me since I was pressed for time because of the Olympics and I wanted to quit and work at Chic-Fil-A or do another sport. But it was my foundation that kept me on track of saying hey, please don’t give up. So guys, if you feel defeated… keep going. You don’t want to look back and have regrets. Just keep pushing through and you guys can do it.

It can be easy to doubt God’s plan during those times of hardship. What would you say to someone who is doubting God’s plan for their life?

G: I’d say don’t doubt and trust! I had to stop with the “what-if’s.” If I’m like… what if I don’t make it? What if… I had to stop with that and just believe. If you just trust and believe then everything’s going to be okay. If we doubt and if we fear — then it’s going to happen. If I’m on the beam and I’m thinking “oh my gosh, what if I fall?” I’m going to fall because I’m thinking it. I would tell those teens just don’t doubt and just believe.

You’re only 18 and you’ve already accomplished so much in your life. How do you stay grounded and humble through it all?

G: Well I’m really blessed to have such a supportive family I do and they definitely keep me grounded. My sisters, my brother, my mom, we were just raised up just being humble and my mom taught us to never forget where you came from. My mom definitely raised us well and my faith also keeps me grounded and humble. Gymnastics, it keeps me humble and down to earth too because I realize when I start getting cocky and being like yes I can do this, I start messing up more. So in gymnastics you have to be very disciplined. So it’s all the different sorts of things that keep my head from being too blown up.

So when people see this movie and they get to experience your story and all of the emotion and the passion that lies in it, what do you hope that they walk away with?

G: I just hope that they’ll become inspired and motivated in their own lives and to think okay if she can do it then I can do it… If she can overcome the obstacles that she overcame then I can overcome this one in my life and I’m going to go after my dream and achieve my goals and I won’t let anything or anyone stop me.