Gabby made history on Aug. 2 when she took the gold medal in women’s gymnastics all-around, but it was no easy feat! Her mom Natalie opened up about the struggles she faced raising an Olympic athlete as a single mom. Check out the video below!
Gabby Douglas is a two-time gold medal Olympian, taking the top prize in women’s gymnastics as part of the US team and as an individual all-around champ. But at just 16 years old, her mom Natalie Hawkins had to make extraordinary sacrifices to ensure her daughter could achieve her Olympic dreams.
Gabby was the youngest of four siblings, being raised by single mom Natalie in Virginia Beach, Va. From a young age, Gabby was always competing with her older siblings, and at just three years old, her mom knew she had a unique gift.
“She would just do these perfectly straight cartwheels. Her legs would be like pencils, just perfect,” Natalie said. Gabby’s older sister Arielle had to convince her mom to enroll the talented girl in gymnastics. After a few years of begging, Natalie finally gave in.
“She just never wanted to come out of the gym, she loved it,” Natalie said.
Although Gabby put in all the tough hours, Natalie didn’t realize how expensive it would be to keep her daughter enrolled in her sport. She said the pressure felt “crushing” sometimes, but she did what it took to fight for her daughter’s dream.
“I sold almost all my jewelry,” she admitted. “I had to pick up extra shifts at work, whatever it took.”
Then in 2008, the family was gathered around to watch the Bejing Olympics. Gabby confessed that she really believed she could go all the way. “I can do this,” she told her mom.
Natalie and Gabby decided that she needed a better, more experienced coach to help advance her career, and Gabby knew just the one — Lian Chow, Shawn’s coach. The problem? Coach Chow was located thousands of miles away in Iowa.
So after much convincing, Natalie agreed to let Gabby stay with a host family in Iowa. Although they Skyped, it was tough for the entire family to adjust.
But from day one training with the new coach, Gabby improved immensely. Natalie everyone could tell she was well on her way to the Olympics.
Click to watch the video below!
And now she is taking home the gold! Congrats to Gabby and her whole family!
What do YOU think of Natalie and Gabby’s story HollyMoms?
— Christina Stiehl
More Olympics news:
- Gabby Douglas Takes Gold In Women’s All-Around
- Michael Phelps Beats Ryan Lochte — Wins Gold, His 20th Medal
- U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team Wins Gold Medal, First Since ’96 Games