While They Will Compete Against Each Other at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in Brazil, Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles Say They Are ‘Sisters’

Gymnasts Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles pose for a portrait during the U.S. Olympic Committee Rio de Janeiro Olympics shoot in Los Angeles on Nov. 20, 2015.  HARRY HOW/GETTY IMAGES
Gymnasts Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles pose for a portrait during the U.S. Olympic Committee Rio de Janeiro Olympics shoot in Los Angeles on Nov. 20, 2015.
HARRY HOW/GETTY IMAGES

Four years ago a petite, timid Gabby Douglas made her national media debut in front of hundreds of reporters at the Olympic Media Summit. At the time, she was unknown to everyone except gymnastics insiders, but that changed when, two months later, she captured the all-around gold medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games. 

“Before, it would be like, ‘Gabby Douglas,’ and it would be like crickets,” said Douglas, who just captured the American Cup all-around title two weeks ago. “And now when they say ‘Gabby Douglas,’ the whole stadium lights up.”

She returned to the same media summit last week—this time five months before the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Just like the crowds at her meets, things have changed.

She’s 3.5 inches taller.

She answers the probing questions of dozens of journalists with confidence.

She will soon star in her own reality-television show, Douglas Family Gold, premiering May 25 on the Oxygen network.

Now she wants to be the first gymnast to successfully defend the gymnastics all-around title at the Olympic games.

“My body feels good,” Douglas, 20, said. “My mind is stronger, so I’m just like, ‘Why not give it a chance?’”

But the biggest barrier to that goal is another black gymnast, one from Spring, Texas—19-year-old Simone Biles. Her earliest memory of gymnastics is flipping off a swing set when she was 5 years old, and landing on her face.

Those days are long gone. The 4-foot-8-inch Biles is the most decorated elite gymnast in American history. She has amassed three world gymnastics all-around titles and 14 world-championship medals in just three years.

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Source: The Root | KIRATIANA FREELON