Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty images
Gymnastics gold medalist Gabby Douglas told Oprah that she almost quit the sport when she was 14 after alleged bullying at her old gym in Virginia Beach.Here’s what what Douglas said on Oprah’s Next Chapter on Sunday night (full video below):
“I was just, you know, kind of getting racist jokes, kind of being isolated from the group. So it was definitely hard. I would come home at night and just cry my eyes out. Like, ‘What did I do to deserve this?'”
“One of my teammates was like, ‘Could you scrape the bar?’ And they were like, ‘Well, why doesn’t Gabby do it, she’s our slave?’ It was just very offensive.”
“I felt being bullied, and isolated from the group. They treated me not how they would treat their other teammates.”
Douglas wanted to quit when she was 14. But eventually she decided to move to a gymnastics program in Iowa and follow her Olympic dream.
Douglas’ mum clarified that the decision to switch gyms wasn’t “all racial,” but that Gabby felt “uncomfortable.”
The gym, Excalibur Gymnastics, has strongly denied the accusations of racism and bullying (via E!):
“Gabby’s remarks were hurtful and without merit. We’ve had more African Americans in elite and on the national team than any other gym in the country (5, 2 of them in Olympic Trials or Olympic Team Camp). Her African American former teammates will answer this serious accusation. (1st statement untruth, she was not the only African American gymnast training in the gym) We are good people. We never were knowingly involved in any type of bullying or racist treatment, like she is accusing Excalibur.”
Douglas was the first African-American to win gold in the individual all-around. So far the racial angle of Douglas’ story has been limited to an odd uproar about her hair, but these quotes should open up that discussion a bit.
Here’s the full Oprah interview:
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