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Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas visits ASU

(Photo by Sam Rosenbaum)
(Photo by Sam Rosenbaum)

(Photo by Sam Rosenbaum) Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas spoke to a standing-room only crowd at an event in Murdoch Hall on Wednesday night. (Photo by Sam Rosenbaum)

Gabby Douglas already had the crowd.

Students had waited in a long line that wrapped around Murdoch Hall Wednesday night, and they drowned out Undergraduate Student Government president Mark Naufel’s introduction with applause.

But then the Olympic gold medalist threw up the pitchfork, and there was no going back. The standing room only crowd was in love with her.

She was sitting at a table in front of the massive lecture hall. A moderator and the ASU gymnastics coaching staff by her side, Douglas spent about 90 minutes going through her journey to gymnastics gold. She reflected all the way back to when she was 14-years-old and begging her mom to let her move to Iowa to getting the nickname, “The Flying Squirrel” (“Squirrels are cute I guess,” Douglas deadpanned to the crowd) to the moment she knew she won all around gold in London last Summer.

“If I want people to take away anything from my talk, it’s that you really have to go after your dreams,” Douglas told The State Press earlier that evening, sitting with her mom and like a typical 17-year-old clutching her iPhone that, fittingly, had an American Flag cover. “I think the attitude you have to have is a good mindset, and you really have to have the passion for it, because if you’re not there, then don’t do it.

“I know when I wasn’t there in the gym, it would just be a waste of my time and of Chau’s time because I wanted to deliver a perfect routine.”

Douglas is quick to thank her support system for her success as well.

“It definitely takes a village,” she said. “From coaches, moms, dads, anywhere you can find that support system, use it because they’re going to come in handy.”

Douglas has been out of the gym and on the public speaking trail since the Olympics games ended in August, including talk show appearances including "Oprah's Next Chapter" and "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" alongside Michelle Obama.

“Yeah, no big deal!” Douglas joked.

While the career of a gymnast is a short one, Douglas doesn’t plan on going away anytime soon. She has her sights set on the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro and even a potential acting career.

She already made a guest appearance on her favorite show, “The Vampire Diaries” and has an episode of Disney XD’s “Kickin’ It” in the works. In fact, she planned on flying out to Los Angeles immediately after her talk in Tempe. She has an acting coach she is working with and cites acting and public speaking as her two top interests besides Gymnastics.

And somewhere down the line both she and her mother want her to get the college experience, just not right now.

“I would love to go to college, but in the gymnastics world, if you want to do another Olympics, it’s just so hard because you have to focus on the training and you’d be flying back and forth and that’s really hard, but we’ll see," Douglas said. "I really want to have that experience.”

And if that college ends up being ASU, she’s already has the pitchfork down.


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