( 4UMF NEWS ) Gabby Douglas Bullied During Training:
Mental stresses — some the result of bullying — played an enormous role.
“I felt I was being bullied and isolated from the group and they treated me not how they would treat their other teammates,” Douglas told Winfrey during the interview. “I definitely felt isolated. I felt like, why am I deserving this? Is it because I’m black? Like, those thoughts would go through my mind.”
“One of my teammates was like, ‘Could you scrape the bar?’” she recalled. “And they were like, ‘Why doesn’t Gabby do it, she’s our slave?’”
Earlier this summer, Douglas’ hairstyle became a point of discussion among Olympic fans, a fact that mystified the athlete.
“Where’s this coming from? Are you kidding me? What’s this about my hair,” she told the Daily News. “I gel it up, put some clips in it and put it in a bun. People shouldn’t be worried about that.”
The 16-year-old’s mother, Natalie Hawkins, also sat in on the Oprah interview, and chimed in that Douglas had brought up the bullying before, though the young gymnast kept a lot of things to herself.
“There were some things that were going on that she was sharing with me and some things that she wasn’t because she knew how I would react,” Hawkins told the talk show host.
But the concerned mother recognized that the problem was something bigger when, at age 14, Douglas told her that she’d reached a breaking point.
“She said, ‘I’d rather quit. If I can’t move and train and get another coach, I’d rather quit the sport,’” Hawkins said.
Luckily for Douglas, her mother took her plea to heart and she moved away from the family at 14 to train in Iowa.
And the rest, as the say, is Olympic gold-medal history.