FILED IN: Sports

Gabby Douglas says she was the victim of racial slurs, bullying

Gabrielle Douglas says she was mercilessly bullied by fellow teammates early on. Photo via Twitter.

Gabby Douglas, 16, a two-time gold champion of the 2012 London Olympics, revealed to Oprah Winfrey that she was the target of vicious and mean behavior growing up as a young gymnast in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Oprah’s interview with Douglas aired Sunday on Oprah’s Next Chapter, where Douglas admitted to wanting to quit gymnastics when she was 14 because of the cruel encounters she faced with other athletes. She told Oprah, “I definitely felt isolated, I felt why am I deserving this? Is it because I’m black? Those thoughts would go through my mind.”

She even said one team-mate went so far as to suggest that Douglas scrape the bar because she was their “slave”.

Douglas eventually moved from Virginia to Iowa to train at the Chow’s Gymnastics and Dance Institute, where things got a lot better for her reports Us Weekly. Douglas said she told her mother that she would leave the sport if something wasn’t done. Her mother then moved Douglas to Iowa to train with the renowned coach and trainer, Liang Chow.

Douglas is the first African-American to win the team all-around trophy. She has been nicknamed ‘the flying squirrel’ because of her performance on the uneven bars.