ST. LOUIS – Entering this weekend’s P&G Gymnastics Championships, Gabby Douglas had high expectations placed upon her. Surely she would finish second to three-time world champion Simone Biles. If not second, third. After all, she is the reigning Olympic all-around world champion and world silver medalist.
When she finished fourth Sunday night (behind Biles, 2012 Olympian Aly Raisman and first-year senior Laurie Hernandez) at the end of the two-day national championships competition, Douglas seemed just as disappointed as some of her fans. But she was not about to let the result get her down, with less than 40 days to the start of the 2016 Olympic Games and just over 10 days until the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
The 20-year-old has a history of turning letdowns into tremendous success. This is the same athlete who finished seventh at the 2011 national championships and won Olympic gold a year later. And the same athlete who finished fifth at the 2015 national championships, months before winning her first-ever individual world medal, an all-around silver.
Douglas spoke to members of the media about her performance in St. Louis and what she has to work on going into next month’s Olympic Trials, slated for July 8 and 10 in San Jose, California.
What did you think of your performance this weekend?
Obviously I gave a lot away, and I had a few mistakes. Overall, I’m just going to move forward heading into Olympic Trials and really focus on being consistent and strong, and really work hard in the gym.
Do you feel you performed how you’ve been doing in training or was there a big difference here?
I feel like there was a little bit of a difference because I messed up a few events I could have done better, but overall, training has bene going well. I think it was a fluke thing because that never happens to me on bars. My beam was pretty wobbly the first day. I haven’t been as solid as I have been in training, but I’m going to move forward and head to trials pretty strong.
Is there any reason you’re able to point to for the mistakes?
Not really. I don’t know. In my bar routine, I ended up really crooked and then I fell over the other way. I was like, ‘Oh! I never really do that. Snap!’ But it’s fine. It’s good.
Is the 2.5 vault (Amanar) something you need to show (women's national team coordinator) Martha Karolyi?
For sure, I definitely need the 2.5, and I definitely need a little bit more difficulty to squeeze out those tenths of a point in my scores. I really do need to show Martha that I can make it a competition, and a great one at that.
You seem to have the amplitude you would need. Are you doing it in training?
I’m working it in training. It’s coming along very well.
What do you think of the placement (fourth), and does that motivate you even more for Olympic Trials?
I think so, yeah. Obviously I didn’t do my best, but I think finishing fourth is definitely going to motivate me. I fell on bars; that definitely motivated me to go out and hit the rest of the events. It kind of reminded me of 2012 when I fell on beam and then came back strong on the other events. It was kind of like déjà vu.
Martha said your conditioning is good, but it might just be a numbers thing that you have to get the numbers in in your training. Would you agree with that?
Yeah, I think my endurance and my conditioning is fine. I do get the number of routines in. I think I just rush myself a little bit and kind get ahead of myself. I need to relax, stay calm and take deep breaths.
You were fifth at nationals last year and still finished at worlds. Is that something to be encouraged about, seeing this finish?
Yeah, yeah, for sure. I think peaking at the right time is key, and I’m feeling pretty confident. I think I’m in a really good spot right now. I really do.