In the world of gymnastics, time is the undefeatable enemy. Gymnastics is hard on the mind and body, making longevity in the sport a difficult task. Gabby Douglas, however, wants to take on that task and become the first two-time winner of the Olympic all-around title in 50 years.
— Rio Olympics (@RIOlympics) July 26, 2015
The first female gymnasts to accomplish this feat were the former Soviet Union’s Larisa Latynina and Věra Čáslavská of the Czech Republic. They were successive two-time all around champions, but arguably during a time when the sport was not as demanding. A number of other gymnasts have since come close but were unsuccessful and soon Douglas will have her chance at the elusive repeat.
The American phenom won her first Olympic gold medal for the individual all-around in the 2012 Summer Olympics, and took home a second gold medal at the games for the all-round team competition. Soon after, Douglas started taking breaks, had inconsistent camps, and suddenly the hopes of a successful return was met by criticism.
As a gymnast, taking a break is a major setback as months of training and repetition can turn to rust after just a few weeks of idleness. The mind might think that it’s still able, but the body won’t cooperate.
But after all the skepticism and the rise of a new gymnastic superpower in Simone Biles, Douglas is ready to reclaim what she won years ago.
“I never really wanted to retire. I wanted to take a little bit of a break, and then go for it,” said Douglas whose first real competition since the Olympics was at the Secret Classic in Hoffman Estates, Ill., held last Saturday.
— U.S. Olympic Team (@TeamUSA) July 26, 2015
She came in second overall behind Biles, who beat her by 1.9 points. Though she came up short on Saturday, Douglas is now older and wiser and certainly more motivated to become the next Olympic two-time champion.
“My comeback wasn’t fake, guys,” said Douglas.
Gymnastics fans have to wait and see if Gabby Douglas can successfully defend her title in 2016.