Gymnastics: Bullies are tormenting Douglas, says mother

Sun Aug 14, 2016 1:11pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Pritha Sarkar

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Bullies are ruining U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas's Olympic adventure by attacking her appearance, accusing her of being unpatriotic, and by mocking her with a mean-spirited nickname, "Crabby Gabby", on social media, her mother told Reuters.

The 20-year-old athlete has been attacked for a perceived lack of patriotism for not placing her hand over her heart as the U.S. anthem was played during a medal ceremony and for not joining a standing ovation for two team mates.

Her mother, Natalie Hawkins, says Douglas is heart-broken.

"She's had to deal with people criticizing her hair, or people accusing her of bleaching her skin. They said she had breast enhancements, they said she wasn't smiling enough, she's unpatriotic. Then it went to not supporting your team mates. Now you're "Crabby Gabby"," Hawkins said in an interview.

"You name it and she got trampled. What did she ever do to anyone?"

For the second Games running, Douglas has found herself caught in a firestorm despite yet another gold winning performance in Rio.

In 2012 Twitter went into overdrive after Douglas became the first African-American gymnast to win the Olympic all-around title. But rather than lauding her excellence, critics rounded on her for the state of her hair during the final.

Four years on and Douglas has another Olympic gold, from the women's team competition, but the sheen from that victory has also been tarnished after TV cameras showed her standing to attention during the national anthem.   Continued...

2016 Rio Olympics - Artistic Gymnastics - Preliminary - Women's Qualification - Subdivisions - Rio Olympic Arena - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/08/2016. Gabrielle Douglas (USA) of USA (Gabby Douglas) competes on the beam during the women's qualifications. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj