Gabby Douglas, Oprah Winfrey Interview Reveals The Athlete Was Bullied By Teammates; Called A 'Slave' (RECAP, VIDEO)
When Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas sat down with Oprah Winfrey on "Oprah's Next Chapter" on Sunday, Aug. 26, the two had plenty to discuss about the athlete's past and her struggle to prepare herself for the Olympics.
Winfrey sat with the 16-year-old and several members of her family in West Des Moines, Iowa. The talk show queen spoke with Gabby's mother, Natalie Hawkins, her three siblings, her coach Liang Chow, and the family that hosted her in Iowa.
One of the biggest revelations to come out of the chat was that Douglas was often bullied by her teammates at swim practice in Virginia.
Douglas acknowledged that when she made headlines during the London Games for her hair style, it wasn't the first time she dealt with criticism. She admitted that in Virginia, at the age of 14, she felt lonely at times for being treated "different" from others.
She told the story of when another gymnast referred to her as a "slave."
"I definitely felt isolated. I felt, why am I deserving this? Is it because I'm black? Like, those thoughts would go through my mind," she said. "I felt I was being bullied and isolated from the group...Just, they treated me, not how they would treat their other teammates."
The bullying and racism became such a distraction in Virginia that Doulgas asked her mother if she could move out of the area to focus on gymnastics and prepare for the Olympic trials. The move to Iowa proved to have worked - Douglas ended up winning two gold medals while setting world records this summer in London.
She helped the United States bring home it's first Olympic gymnastics gold for Team USA since 1996 and won for herself the all-around gold for her individual performance. Douglas is the second black American to ever make the United States' Olympic gymnastics team.