Gabby Douglas still has it. Just the other day, for the first time since the Olympic gymnast wrapped the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions in November, Douglas got back in the gym.
“I’m actually kind of sore,” the 21-year-old admits. “It was fun! I was like, ‘Ooh! Flipping again! I kinda miss this!’ It was fun to get back because I hadn’t flipped since tour so it was fun to get back out there and be like, ‘I still got it!’”
Douglas, who has found herself mostly hiking for exercise post-Olympics, wasn’t so sure the moves would come back to her.
“I did a flip and I was like, ‘I didn’t know I was going to do it.’ And my mom [Natalie Hawkins] was like, ‘You’re always going to have it. It’s going to be second nature.’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, you’re right!’ But you forget that sometimes.”
While the 2012 all-around Olympic champ enjoyed getting back on the mat, of a possible future competing in the sport, she’ll only say “we’ll see.”
After taking home her third gold medal overall in Rio de Janeiro in August, like her Final Five teammates, Douglas took a break from the sport to pursue other opportunities, including an upcoming guest spot on Nickelodeon’s Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn.
One Hollywood opportunity Douglas turned down, though, was an appearance alongside her Final Five teammates Madison Kocian, Aly Raisman and Simone Biles at the Golden Globes last month.
“I got the invitation too late. You have to plan to get everything set up and it’s like, ‘What am I going to wear?’ This is a red carpet with, like, actors and actresses and these images are going to live on the internet, and I’m like, I know I’m not going to feel my best,” she explains.
Douglas hasn’t been spending much time with her gold medal–winning teammates since their group obligations wrapped.
“We’re all over. I’m in L.A., Simone’s in Houston, Aly is in Boston, so it’s not like we’ve been together, we were just picked and chosen for a very special moment,” she explains. “We’ve known each other because we’ve been training and competing against each other for a long time, but after the Olympics, it’s kind of like everyone scattered. People are not contracted to stay together, we’re just there for a job and then everyone kind of does their own thing.”
Douglas’ “own thing” is now taking on important tasks, like empowering other women. She will be at the NFL Women’s Summit on February 3 (livestreamed on MAKERS.com) and at the MAKERS Conference February 6–8, where she’ll be speaking about “empowerment, confidence, and beauty.”
Going from the uneven bars to the speaking podium is a big adjustment for Douglas. “I get really nervous. I’m like, ‘Calm down, I’m pretty sure the Olympics is much harder,’” she says. “This is kind of new to me.”
But the fear is worth it to Douglas, especially when it comes to sharing her experiences with cyberbullying and educating the public on how damaging it can be. Her own experiences with online trolls came during what should have been the happiest moment in her year: winning another all-around team medal in gymnastics for Team USA. Instead of celebrating, Douglas learned she was being attacked online for everything from not smiling enough to not putting her hand on her heart during the National Anthem.
“It’s gotten a lot better because I was like crying every day because of people and it’s gotten a whole lot better,” she says. “Now, versus Rio, I’m just mentally in a better spot, and when I even see some comments, I’ve got to just fight the urge not to comment. At that moment, you just have got to take the high road and that’s what I’m doing.”
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