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Grace, Gold and Christ. Gabby Douglas

Gabrielle Douglas is a two-time Olympic gold medalist. At the 2012 Summer Olympics, she made history, becoming the first US gymnast to take home a team and an individual gold medal in the same Olympics. Gabrielle began her training at age six, and became the Virginia State Champion only two years later. When she was fourteen, she left her family in Virginia Beach to train with coach Liang Chow in Des Moines, Iowa. Under Chow’s guidance, and with tremendous faith in God’s plan for her, Gabrielle competed in the Olympic Trials and walked away with the only guaranteed spot on the team. Since her Olympic triumph, Gabrielle has used her platform to inspire millions with a powerful message: With hard work and persistence, any dream is possible.

I sat down with Gabby to ask about her upbringing, life as an athlete and your ultimate goal.

John: I'm wondering if I could ask you a few questions about your life and what God has been doing in and through you, and maybe if you could just give us a little precursor of what's going to take place in this next year for you as well.

Gabby, how did you get interested in gymnastics? What started it all for you?

Gabby: My oldest sister, she actually encouraged me. Before gymnastics she was doing a couple tricks and she taught me. She told my mom to put me in and after a while she put me in. I started my first rec class when I was six.

John: You were only six years old?

Gabby: Yes.

John: Did everything just kind of started snowballing after that? You just became more or less addicted to it?

Gabby: Yes I fell in love with the sport of gymnastics. I always loved to flip and tumble and compete. When I started my first rec class, I just loved gymnastics.

John: Your sister was not jealous of you surpassing her at all, was she?

Gabby: I don't think so. I think we were kind of doing our own thing.

John: At what age, Gabby, were you when you started setting your eye on the Olympic stage?

Gabby: I was about eight or nine years old, and I was watching the 2004 Olympics. Carly Patterson, she was the 2004 one of the gold medalists, and I saw her doing a skill called Uneven Bars. I saw what she was doing and I would kind of learn the same thing, and I decided I wanted to go to the Olympics at that time.

John:  For someone who has not just gone to the Olympics, but has also taken gold in them, how do you keep your focus on Christ at the centerpiece of who you are?

Gabby: It's always been a part of me. People tell me, how do you balance the two? It's not hard to balance since it has always been a part of me. I read on the plane, whenever I get it in. I read my bible. Every competition and every time I'm about to go out on the Olympic stage, I pray and say one Scripture verse before I go out just to get me confident and have a peace of mind before I go out there and compete.

John: When you got there, did you find there were other believers that were like minded as you were?

Gabby: No, not really. They were kind of focusing on themselves and so was I, and the other countries were too, so I kind of just kept to myself.

John: You obviously had a support system, your mom was there with you.

Gabby: Yes. My family went to London. They're my support system. I am so glad they could make it out to London and watch me compete. They were so excited just walking over to the arena. It was very thrilling having them watch me at the Olympics.

John: What was it like when you found out that you got the gold? How did you feel in your heart?

Gabby: Oh my goodness, I don't know if words can describe. It was just a wow moment. First thing I did was hug Chow and say thank you for everything, Chow. It was just an amazing feeling knowing that all the hard work and sacrifice, effort and money spent in the gym and mom spent, the sacrifices my siblings made. It was a lot of hard work and it took diligence to get me where I am today. It was a lot of emotion going everywhere.

John: What is your goal now for the rest of this year, for 2013? What are you working on?

Gabby: I am not quite back in the gym yet. I really hope to be back soon and I really want to attend 2016, another Olympics. That's my goal.

John: What would you say to all the little "Gabbys" that are out there, that are four or six years old right now, that are thinking about gymnastics or thinking about your life, how would you encourage them?

Gabby: I would just tell them take it one step at a time. There's no need to rush it, but still have your goals in line, but just have fun along the way. Competing is fun. After a competition you get goody bags and go to a banquet. I say just enjoy the ride and keep pushing yourself, give 100% at what you do.

John: Gabby, how would you encourage somebody in their walk with Christ, especially another 17-year-old?

Gabby: Walk with Christ, just pray, read your Bible, something just to get you motivated, whether it's your favorite scripture or whether it's your favorite quote, and something like that, I think.

For more information on Gabby Douglas, click here.

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