Gabby Douglas Tells Oprah About Bullying and Her Road to Olympic Gold


For over 20 years, Oprah Winfrey has interviewed everyone from celebrities to politicians. She is known for asking the real questions and being able to get the most genuine answers. On August 26, two-time Olympic gold medalist Gabrielle Douglas and her families were added to that list. There are lots of people who are in the spotlight for one reason or another. Once Oprah interviews or speaks of them their time to shine is as good as gold. If you’re getting interviewed by Oprah, you’ve officially hit the big time or your story was just that touching. During the Gabby Douglas episode of Oprah’s Next Chapter, Oprah travels to West Des Moines, Iowa to visit with Douglas, meet her families, and to take a shot at the balance beam.

When Douglas was 14 years old, she left her mother, Natalie Hawkins, and her siblings, Arielle, Joyelle, and Johnathan, to move to West Des Moines, Iowa to train with world-renowned coach Liang Chow. Douglas met Chow, who also coached 2008 Olympian Shawn Johnson, in 2008. Being that Douglas was still young, Travis and Missy Parton volunteered to be her host family. Douglas went from being the baby of four to being the big sister to the Partons’ four girls, one of whom also trains with Chow. The girls showed Oprah Douglas's room and shared how cool it was to have her as a big sister. Douglas's room looked like a typical teenager’s room with plenty of bright colors and decorations. On the right side of her bed, she has Matthew 5:14-16 taped to the wall to inspire her daily.

Oprah also met with Douglas's birth family and had a sit-down talk with her and her mom. During the family interview, Douglas's grandpa, Theodore, proudly wore his red “Flying Squirrel” t-shirt that says “Gabby’s Grandpa” on the back. Oprah sarcastically nicknamed him “Mr. Subtle,” which the family says isn’t a part of his character. Big sister Arielle spoke of how one day she showed Douglas how to do only a straight cartwheel and the next day she was doing one-handed cartwheels all by herself. Brother Johnathan said that when they were lobbying for Douglas to go to Iowa, he was set on his baby sister staying in Virginia. Now that it’s all over with, he said that he’s glad that he eventually went along with the decision. During the sit-down with Douglas and her mom, she talked to Oprah about the bullying she endured that almost made her quit the sport. They also talked about a certain situation that reminded us that every now and then all teenagers need attitude adjustments. Before it was all said and done with, they traveled to the gym that helped mold yet another Olympian. Oprah’s shot on the balance beam was too cute. Gabby even offered to hold Oprah’s hands since she seemed nervous and was a bit wobbly. It was the first scale Oprah had ever done and I think she did rather well. It wouldn’t be Oprah’s Next Chapter if she didn’t do anything new, right?

When Oprah interviews someone, her interviews don’t seem like interviews. Though she may go in depth and is pretty straight-forward, it always seems like she’s just talking with a friend. Her comfort level seems to bring comfort to those around her, though she didn’t look super comfortable on that balance beam. Douglas has been compared with three-time Olympian Dominique Dawes and has inspired a generation of little girls of all colors, including my 5-year-old, to be flying squirrels.