Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas says it’s gratifying but also surreal for there to be a movie that chronicles her life story.
“It’s really exciting,” says the pint-sized gymnast, one of the heroes of the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games. “At the same time it’s a little overwhelming. I never thought it would happen.”
Mind you, this is the same person who, as a little girl, had no doubts whatever when she declared she would make it to the Olympics one day.
Sure enough, Douglas made history, becoming the first African-American to win an Olympic gold medal in women’s gymnastics as individual all-around champion. (She and her teammates, who became known as the “Fierce Five,” also won gold in the team competition.)
Now, two years later, Douglas finds it hard to believe that The Gabby Douglas Story, premiering at 7 p.m. Saturday on Lifetime, is a reality.
Maybe with age (she’s 18 now) comes the wisdom to recognize how improbable all of her accomplishments actually are.
We chatted this week with Gabby about the movie and about her plans to continue her athletic career.
What do you most hope viewers will take away from watching the movie?
I want them to see that all things are possible. I went though some times in my life that were very difficult and I went through struggles. At one point, my family and I were homeless.
I want people to know that they can overcome it. I hope they’ll become motivated in their own lives and think, “If she can do it, then I can do it. I’m going to go after my dream and achieve my goals and I won’t let anything or anyone stop me.”
How involved were you in the making of this movie?
I was pretty much involved, me and my mom. Lifetime kept us in the loop with everything. They would send us the script and ask what we thought. They’d show the girls on camera doing their lines. [Imani Hakin plays Gabby as a child; Sydney Mikayla plays her as a teenager.] I’d give my input about how certain moves should be done. But for the most part, they had it right already.
How much has your life changed since you won two gold medals in London?
It changed so fast. At first, the world was like, “Who is Gabby Douglas?” Then I won the Olympics and it was an overnight celebrity thing. It went from “Who is Gabby Douglas?” to everybody knowing who Gabby Douglas is. I never thought it could happen so fast.
What are your plans moving forward as an athlete?
I’m training right now and everything’s going smoothly. Hopefully I’ll be competing by this year. The main goal is Olympics 2016 in Brazil. My mind-set is that I’m not Gabby Douglas. I’m not a big champion in my mind. I’m just going to think I’m another girl vying for that spot for 2016 and I’m just another girl competing for USA. I’m going to go into it with that mind-set, to be humble and grounded.
Is it hard to keep the success and fame from going to your head?
I’m really blessed to have such a supportive family. They definitely keep me grounded. My sisters, my brother and I, we were raised being humble. My mom taught us to never forget where you came from.
Gymnastics keeps me down to earth, too. Because when I start getting cocky, I start messing up. In gymnastics, you have to be very disciplined. Those things keep my head from being too blown up.