Gabby Douglas to Oprah: I was 'bullied,' faced racism
Even heroic Olympic gold medalists aren't immune to bullying.
Two-time gold medal gymnast Gabrielle Douglas reveals in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that she faced bullying, torment and even racism from some of her old teammates, and it got so bad that she once considered quitting the sport.
"I felt being bullied and isolated from the group and they treated me not how they would treat their other teammates," Douglas told Winfrey in the interview, which is set to air Sunday on Winfrey's OWN network.
"I definitely felt isolated. I felt like, why am I deserving this?" she said.
Douglas went on: "One of my teammates was like, 'Could you scrape the bar?' And they were like, 'Why doesn't Gabby do it, she's our slave?'
"Is it because I'm black? Like, those thoughts would go through my mind," she said.
Douglas, 16, won the individual and team gold medals in London earlier this month, and was largely seen as one of the U.S.'s most prominent stars to emerge from the games.
But her early career hazing nearly made the Olympics only a dream, said her mother, Natalie Hawkins.
"There were some things that were going on that she was sharing with me and some things that she wasn't because she knew how I would react," Hawkins told Winfrey, adding that when Douglas was 14, she had hit a breaking point.
"She said, 'I'd rather quit. If I can't move and train and get another coach, I'd rather quit the sport,'" Hawkins said.
It was at that point that she took Douglas to train in Iowa, where Douglas was able to continue her Olympic-bound journey.
Douglas also talked about her hair with Winfrey, which became a major talking point during the Olympics. Many on Twitter and in the blogosphere called it "messy" and unkempt, and Douglas said she picked up on the conversation through Twitter.
"I'm like, 'What are these people talking about?' I was so confused, but I don't want to focus on the negative," she told Oprah about when she first discovered the online controversy around her locks.
"It hurt a little bit," Douglas said.