She narrowly misses the chance to defend her title in the individual all-around competition
In 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, Gabby Douglas was the breakout star of the U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team winning two gold medals—one team medal and another for the highly coveted individual all around. There was scrutiny over whether Gabby deserved a spot on the team for the 2016 Games in Rio after she fell off the balance beam twice during the trials. (FYI, the beam is 4 inches wide—just saying.) Douglas did make the team after all, and we saw her compete alongside her teammates in last night's qualifying rounds. But it was the culmination of these events that Douglas yet again held her head high and gave her infamous smile, as she dealt with the disappointment with coming in just shy of the points needed to advance to the individual all-around competition for the second time.
Even though Gabby placed third during last night's qualifying rounds (and she absolutely killed it on beam!), her teammates Simone Biles and Aly Raisman placed first and second respectively, which left no spot open for another American gymnast. The International Federation of Gymnastics has a strict "two gymnasts per country" rule, which is implemented to keep things "fair" and to avoid one country monopolizing the competition. But this has been a heavily scrutinized practice, and last night created even more debate considering Biles finished the night with an all-around score of 62.366, Raisman with 60.607, and Douglas with a 60.131—not exactly a large disparity. No gymnast from another country even broke a score of 59. So the rules might not seem too fair from Douglas' perspective. (P.S. Did you catch former Olympic gymnast Nastia Liukin as a commentator at the events?)
If she felt that way, you'd never know it, as Douglas handled the setback with big smiles and warm congratulations to her teammates. The young gymnast's poise under pressure proves she deserves a gold medal for sportsmanship. "I'm not disappointed at all," she tells the AP. "I have no regrets." She goes on to say that she truly competes for herself. "I just wanted to go out there and believe in my abilities and use the talent that I was given," says Douglas. "I wasn't concerned with anything else." That unconditional support was reciprocated with Raisman lamenting, "I hate the two per country rule...I wish that they would change it, but I don't think that they ever will. That's the rules. You've got to respect their decision, but it is heartbreaking."
While last night may not have ended the way she would have liked, this is certainly not the end of the road for Douglas in Rio. If anything, she's just getting started. She'll go on to compete in the team competition, and she'll be going for the gold on all her own at the uneven bars. "I would have loved to go out there and defend my title, but right now I'm just rejoicing, and so far this has just been an amazing experience—there's nothing to be ashamed about." (Don't miss Ageless Gymnast Oksana Chusovitina compete on vault for as spot on the podium!)