By: Kylan Watson
The Rio 2016 Olympics started out really great for the returning 2012 All-Around Olympic champion, Gabrielle Douglas. Her team won a gold medal in the team competition on August 10th 2016. Douglas had won her third gold medal. However, the night of accomplishment ended in controversy, as social media users on Twitter, called Douglas out for not putting her right hand over her heart during the playing of the national anthem.
Douglas apologized for not putting her hand over her heart, but once again she found herself being bullied by users on social media sites. In 2012, Douglas was called out for how her hair looked during the competition. However, Douglas powered through that criticism in 2012. The criticism in 2016 proved too much for the Olympic champion though. Once again Douglas was criticized for how her hair looked during competition, adding that criticism to the ones she was hearing over not respecting the national anthem.
Douglas would then be caught in the crossfire of Twitter users again, when she did not energetically cheer for her teammates Simone Biles, and Alexandra Raisman during the individual floor competition on Thursday, August 11th 2016. A lot of people on social media felt Douglas was upset because she could not defend her title. Some users felt she should be encouraging her teammates and smile through it, despite her being upset she could not be in the finals. Douglas immediately apologized, but the damage was already done.
Douglas was being cyberbullied on three fronts, and she still had to persevere and get through her individual finals last night. Douglas placed seventh in the individual uneven bars competition. Before her competition, Douglas’ mother Natalie Hawkins would come out and say, “She’s had to deal with people criticizing her hair, or people accusing her of bleaching her skin. They said she had breast enhancements, they said she wasn’t smiling enough, she’s unpatriotic. Then it went to not supporting your team mates. Now you’re “Crabby Gabby.” (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-olympics-rio-agymnastics-douglas-bull-idUSKCN10P0M6).
Douglas went from star of the 2012 London Olympics, to victim of bullying four years later in the 2016 Rio Olympics. The world turned on her, Douglas found herself being attacked on all fronts and this bullying may put an end to a promising career. Douglas was able to accomplish something that very few Olympic gymnasts accomplished. She competed in her second consecutive Olympics. She won her third gold medal, and no one will ever be able to take her 2012 gold medal away from her. Through everything she was going through she powered through it and handled it with grace, professionalism, and poise. Douglas showed the heart of a true champion through all of this, and I and many others hope she will get through this as a stronger and better athlete. Hopefully she can return and have a major showing in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.