Gabby Douglas competes on the uneven bars in the women's individual all-around final Thursday at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Photo by Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports
By Kelly Whiteside, USA TODAY
LONDON - The moment was both overwhelming and unbelievable. After U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas made history Thursday by becoming the first African-American to win the all-around Olympic gold, there was so much to process.
Her stunning rise the last months, from a bundle of nerves to a confident star. The joy of winning the most coveted title in her sport. The rocket ship ride from relative unknown to being recognized by the President of the United States, Oprah and the rest of the Olympic-watching world.
Then there was this bit of social significance, no small matter. Just 16, she is now a pioneer
"Someone mentioned that I was the first black American (to win the all-around gold), and I said, 'Oh yeah, I forgot about that!' I feel so honored," she said with a laugh.
Competing in a predominantly white sport, Douglas said, "I hope that I inspire people. I want to inspire people. My mother said you can inspire a nation."
In her final event, the floor, Douglas began her routine to cheers of "Go Gabby!" As her techno music played, she soon turned North Greenwich Arena into Club Gabby.
When Douglas stood in the center of the arena to accept her medal, she said it felt as if she were at a concert. "All those flashes," Douglas said.
Douglas put on a show, leading from start to finish, beating Russia's Victoria Komova by .259 of a point. Russia's Aliya Mustafina took the bronze. American Aly Raisman finished with the same score as Mustafina, but missed the bronze due to a tie-breaker rule that adds the top three of four event scores.
"I'm really happy for Gabby," said Raisman, the team captain. "She's been working really hard so I'm really excited for her, but it's definitely really frustrating because we (Mustafina) tied for third place. I was so close."
Missing among the 24 gymnasts competing for the title was reigning world champion Jordyn Wieber, who finished fourth in qualifying but third on her team. Only two gymnasts from each country are allowed to advance to the finals. Afterward Wieber, who has dominated the sport the past two years, told Douglas, via Twitter, "You are the Olympic all around champion and you deserve it girl."