Gymnast Gabby Douglas Taking Dead Aim at Gold in the Summer Olympics

Sixteen-year-old Gabby Douglas should have been a contenda at this competition, but no matter.  She was only an alternate.  However, Douglas stole the show from Jordyn Wieber from all accounts.  

Wieber kicked off her Olympic year with a victory at the American Cup at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, though her third win in the event will come with a sizable asterisk after Douglas — who competed as an alternate and wasn’t eligible for the all-around title — stunned her more heralded teammate with a score more than two-tenths of a point higher.

“I wanted to put my name out there and show everyone what I’m capable of doing,” Douglas said.

Message received.

Though Wieber stood atop the podium with a bouquet of roses in her hands at the end of the day, she gave herself a “B” while calling Douglas “amazing.”

Dubbed “the Flying Squirrel” by women’s national team coordinator Martha Karolyi because of her gravity-defying routines, the 16-year-old from Virginia Beach, Va., sent a clear message the country’s gold medal hopes in London go beyond Wieber and Aly Raisman, who finished second.

Karolyi praised Douglas for her confidence but declined to dub her the new front-runner. It’s only March after all. The opening ceremony in London is still 146 days away. Plenty of drama remains. Douglas’ “win” only adds to the intrigue as Karolyi tries to settle on five athletes to take across the Atlantic in late July.

I think what Douglas needs is control, but she could fix that in time for London.  Additionally, her strength is elsewhere.

It also sounds like Keith Olbermann is moonlighting over at Universal Sports.

Check the plaudits:

Uneven bars is a weak spot for the U.S., and it’s where Douglas can help the most. She is so quick and light she appears to float between the bars — Karolyi has dubbed her the “Flying Squirrel” — and she gets such great height on her release moves she can dust off the ceiling lights. The routine she did Saturday had a 6.5 start value and she plans to add another four-tenths of difficulty, making it among the toughest in the world. Her score of 15.633 was eight-tenths better than anyone else’s.

“Bars is one of our weaker events, and Gabby has that talent,” Chow said. “If we can be more helpful, I would like to push her to the maximum.”

But there is no room for one-event specialists on the smaller team, and Douglas and Chow have spent the last six months upgrading all of her routines. She is now doing one of the toughest vaults there is, the Amanar — a roundoff onto the takeoff board, back handspring onto the vault and then 2.5 twists before landing — and she was near perfect Saturday.

Her execution, already impressive, is even sharper, with gorgeous lines and perfectly pointed toes; Karolyi said the international judges made a point of telling her how impressed they were with Douglas’ execution on uneven bars.

And she has the potential to be a show-stopper, with a bright smile and captivating presence that made her floor routine look like as good a fit for Broadway as the Garden.

I’m sure I’m going to root for Gabby in the Olympics. 

~ by blksista on March 6, 2012.

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