We can’t wait for the games of the XXX Olympiad in London to begin July 27! We will be glued to our TVs watching the Olympics, especially the women’s gymnastics, our fave! And speaking of favorites, AC recently caught up with one of the Olympians we love, gymnast Gabby Douglas. She took time out of her busy training schedule to chat with us about calming pre-performance jitters, her advice for cheerleaders and even a little-known fact about herself.
AC: You must get nervous during important competitions. How do you keep the nerves at bay so you can achieve your best effort?
Gabby: I do a lot of routines in the gym to help me feel confident on each event so I don’t get too nervous. But I also control my nerves by talking to myself, saying, “I can do this.” Listening to the advice and encouragement from my coaches is also a big help.
AC: Is your best event also your favorite to compete in? Why do you love it?
Gabby: Yes, my favorite event is Uneven Bars. I love to compete it because I enjoy making my release moves really high, and I like the flow as well. It’s just like art. But I have to say a few years ago bars was the event that I struggled on the most. I used to tell my mom, “I don’t like bars. I’m not that good on bars.” My mom encouraged me to change what I was saying, and I did. Once I started speaking positively, I really began to improve! Now I love performing my routines on the uneven bars. It’s one of my strongest events!
AC: Gymnastics and cheerleading are so closely related; as an Olympic gymnast, what advice would you offer cheerleaders who want to improve their tumbling passes?
Gabby: I would say to do a lot of leg conditioning. The stronger your legs are the higher you can tumble.
AC: Both cheerleading and gymnastics are year-round sports that require a major time commitment. What’s a typical day or week of training like for you?
Gabby: A typical day is waking up at 8:15 am and having a light breakfast. I head to the gym at 9:00 am and train until 10:30 am. Then I go home and rest, have lunch, do some school work, then head back to the gym at 2:30 pm and workout until 6:30 pm. Then it’s back home for dinner, shower and bed!
AC: In order to reach your very elite level in gymnastics you have had to make some trade-offs. Is there anything in particular you feel you have missed out on that most other teen girls get to experience?
Gabby: Yes, I’ve missed out on some things due to my level of gymnastics. I don’t always get to go to family events. I can’t go to public school or school events such as dances, games, etc. I also miss out on the things like getting to shop for prom dresses and getting asked to a dance by a cute guy or dating in general.
AC: On the other side of that coin, you’re still a young American girl! How is your life similar to that of a typical teen or twenty-something?
Gabby: I still try to do as many “normal” things as I can. I enjoy going to the movies and hanging out with friends occasionally. I also have a couple of favorite TV shows that I like to watch. Also, when I’m not traveling and competing, I get to do some social things like going to birthday parties and get-togethers with friends and teammates.
AC: How do you like to spend your time away from the gym?
Gabby: I really like to spend time relaxing! I also love spending time with my family!
AC: What is something people might be surprised to know about you?
Gabby: People don’t know that I enjoy ballroom dancing.
AC: Any particular music you listen to get you ready to take the mat during competitions?
Gabby: I like to listen to upbeat music. My favorite is Gospel, but I must confess that I love rap music too, because it really gets my adrenaline going!