Thursday, May 2, 2013

Olympic Spirit in Atlanta Draws U.S. Athletes for Great Cause


By Shandra Hill Smith


Listening to two-time Olympic Gold medalist Gabrielle (Gabby) Douglas talk about her new life and demanding schedule, you have to remind yourself that she’s 17. Still, her journey sounds like that of someone twice her age or older.

Douglas traveled to Atlanta in April for an event hosted by the U.S. Olympic Committee at the Georgia Aquarium. “I’m so honored to be here and I’m so excited about the event today,” said Douglas, the first African-American gymnast in Olympic history to become the Individual All-Around Champion.

During an evening featuring Team USA athletes including Olympic Gold Medalist Janet Evans and Olympic Silver Medalist Fencer Tim Morehouse, USOC introduced its newest fundraising initiative, Team USA Society. Team USA Society (TeamUSA.org/Society) will help financially support athletes, including funding coaching, training and medical support that goes into preparing for the Olympic Games. A nonprofit, USOC receives no federal government funding for its Olympic programs.
Taking time before the evening program got underway, Douglas talked of training for the 2016 Olympics, her second book release and a new acting gig.

Douglas, who travels now mostly every day for speaking engagements, media interviews and, before that, for a book tour for her first book, “Grace, Gold, and Glory: My Leap of Faith,” just wrapped up taping in Los Angeles for a guest appearance in Disney XD’s “Kickin’ It.” This follows her cameo in “The Vampire Diaries.” She says she enjoys acting and looks forward to more opportunities on the big screen. 

In addition to travels, she’s busy training with her coach, Liang Chow, for the 2016 Olympic Games — staying with the host family she’s been with in Iowa since she was 14. She’s also excited about the April 30 release of book two, “Raising the Bar,” a book of photos that now is the number-one bestseller in children’s gymnastics books on Amazon.com.

With both books, she says she aims to encourage others to “just go after their dreams and don’t let anything stop you.”

She added, “I love being in this position where I get to inspire people.”
Gabby with Shandra Hill Smith

To read more, pick up the Summer 2013 issue of Season magazine.