Olympic Champion Gabby Douglas Leaves Coach

Joins Family in Los Angeles

She Joins Family in Los AngelesThe teen that made history in the 2012 Olympics, Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas, has ended her sports relationship with the coach who helped her win.

Gabby flourished under the tutelage of Liang Chow and became the first African-American to win the sport’s most desired championship; All-around gold medal.  Chow is the owner of Chow’s Gymnastics and Dance Institute in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Gabby’s popularity soared after the London Games. Gabby was named female athlete of the year by the Associated Press.  She participated in writing her own biography, gained endorsement deals ranging from Kellogg’s Corn Flakes to Nike and donated personal items to Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Douglas has confirmed that she plans to compete for a spot at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.  On the first day she returned to the workout facility she said, “I definitely want to do it again… I love competing. It’s going to take much more hard work. It’s going to be different than 2012 because everyone knows me now and has expectations.”

Missy Parton, who served as a host parent for Gabby, said Douglas left Iowa on Tuesday.  Parton, and her husband Travis, said Douglas immediately fit in with their family after arriving at their home in February 2011.  “She’s just like one of the family and we’ve treated her as one of our own; it’s hard to see her go, but we knew at some point, she wasn’t going to stay here forever” said Parton.

Douglas left Iowa to be with her family in Los Angeles.  Earlier this summer, Douglas’ family moved to Los Angeles; her brother goes to school there. Parton said that she could not speak to why they moved and refused to speculate.

The president and CEO of the USA Gymnastics, Steve Penny, said that Chow elevated Douglas to medal-capturing levels.  According to Penny, he didn’t have a lot of time but he’s smart and knows exactly what to do to strengthen and bring out the best in an athlete.  He also said that Gabby was already molded and Chow worked with the development process that had already began while Gabby was in Virginia.

There is a lot of sacrifice and training that goes with the pursuit of any type of medal.    The amount of social and emotional sacrifice that most athletes have to make in pursuit of an Olympic gold is often brutal.  Some, like Gabby, have been separated from their families and friends in order to get the best possible preparation. Many have had to suffer physical pressures due to previous injuries that could have cost them their careers. Whatever the journey, there’s been a significant price paid in order to reach a sustainable level to compete. Here are some necessary principles in order to train like a champion:

  • Move from interest to discipline: Here is where there’s a huge divide; in our society, we see there are more than enough opportunities to let discipline slide unaccounted for.  This is a day where everyone is looking for a short cut.  People would rather take a pill or 48-hour celebrity diet instead of doing the necessary work in order to maintain desired results.  None of these options work long term because real goals require discipline and interaction. You either pay the price to be great or suffer the consequences of average.
  • Enormous sacrifice is the price for greatness: Once a person can answer the question centered on the cost of the desired goal they will have discovered the “secret.” The reality is there really isn’t a secret to being successful. People must willing to walk away from what they have and toward what they want to possess, before they can have it. Many athletes train in seclusion for years just to win a chance to compete.
  • Keep the focus on the next round: In the post play interview with one of Team USA’s swimmers the winner made a statement which probably shocked many onlookers.  She had just won but was already thinking about her training regiment for the 2016 Olympics. She hadn’t even made it to the London airport in route home, and she was planning her next event. That’s dedication.

For some, their process prevented them from living a normal childhood. But the payoff is more than compensation. They stand with their goals accomplished and we celebrate. Remember, we too can accomplish great things in our lives.

Douglas stopped by the gym on Monday to tell the coach who molded and mentored her during a two-gold run at the London Olympics that she was leaving to join her family in California.  The move by Douglas was as surprising to Chow as it was sudden.

Chinese-born Coach  and the Virginia-raised gymnast  have ended their sports relationship.  Chow was responsible for guiding Gabby to an historic all-around gold medal at the Olympics.  We don’t know what’s next for Gabby but one thing holds true; she is the 2012 Olympic champion.

By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)

Op-Ed

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