United States gymnast Gabby Douglas entered the 2016 Rio Olympics with high hopes after winning the All-Around gold medal in London in 2012. Douglas was excited about defending her title while also helping her teammates defend the team gold, but things took a terrible turn for the worse as Gabby has faced an enormous amount of criticism for various different incidents in Rio.
Douglas was ripped apart on social media for not placing her hand over her heart during the national anthem following the United States’ victory in the team event. Gabby’s four teammates, Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian, all placed their hands over their hearts, but Douglas chose to stand at attention instead.
Gabby Douglas was then criticized for seemingly not supporting Biles and Raisman during the All-Around Final. Apparently, critics didn’t like the expression on her face while she watched from the stands. Douglas was kept out of the Finals in the event due to the IOC’s rule that only two gymnasts from each country can make the finals. Raisman and Biles both outscored Gabby in the prelims.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) August 15, 2016
After finishing seventh out of eight athletes in the uneven bars competition on Sunday, Douglas was interviewed by the media following her final competition at the 2016 Rio Olympics and Gabby didn’t exactly understand of the criticisms she’s received.
“I support them and I’m sorry that I wasn’t showing it,” Douglas said. “And I should have but for me, it’s been a lot. And I’ve been through a lot. I still love the people who love me. Still love them who hate me. I’ve just got to stand on that.”
The Los Angeles Times reported that Gabby Douglas made sure to point out that she stood at attention and didn’t understand why it was viewed as disrespectful.
“For me, when you go through a lot and you have so many difficulties and people against you, sometimes it just determines your character,” Gabby said. “Are you going to stand or are you going to crumble? In the face of everything, still stand.”
At the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Douglas received ridiculous criticism for the appearance of her hair. When Gabby tried to talk about it to reporters on Sunday, she began tearing up.
“When they talk about my hair or me not putting my hand up on my heart or me being very salty in the stands, they’re really criticizing me, and it doesn’t really feel good,” Douglas said. “It was a little bit hurtful.”
Gabby Douglas’ mom, Natalie Hawkins, spoke to CNN on Monday morning and said that all of the harsh words have been hard on her daughter.
“You go from people’s adoration to being the brunt of criticism and hatred,” Hawkins said. “It is hard, because her nature is so giving and so kind.”
As for Gabby not placing her hand over her heart during the national anthem, Hawkins pointed out that her mother is a Navy veteran and her father is a Vietnam War veteran and said Douglas’ actions weren’t indicative of her patriotism.
“It was harsh to boil down your patriotism to one act,” Hawkins said. “That doesn’t determine how honorable you are, or how happy you are to compete for your country.”
Although Gabby does have her critics, there has been an outpouring of support for the 20-year-old as evidenced by the hashtag, #LOVE4GABBYUSA.
— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) August 15, 2016
— Tee Marie Hanible (@TheRealTeeMarie) August 15, 2016
— Lindsay Zoladz (@lindsayzoladz) August 15, 2016
[Photo via Tom Pennington/Getty Images]