The country is abuzz about a new sports hero. The 2012 Summer Olympics has brought us a new athlete, the likes that have not been spoken of on this level and reverence in years. America’s latest champion is none other than Olympic gymnast Gabriel Douglas, or as she’s been affectionately identified in social networks, “Gabby”. Gabby Douglas is definitely the new “it” girl; having gained the national fame and notoriety that garners the most prominent celebrities in the world. As she steals the hearts of America this first week of the Summer Olympics, she is forcing our country to recognize her accomplishments as the first black person in the history of the Olympics to win the gold medal for the individual all-around in women’s gymnastics and the first American to win gold in the same Olympics in the team competition and the individual all-around. With that in tow, Gabby, or “The Flying Squirrel” if you will, is easily becoming the 2012 version of what was captured by swimmer Michael Phelps in 2008. She is vaulting her status and her sport into our society like it never has been before. But being as innocent as she seems, and realizing what she has done, does Gabby Douglas have the potential to go beyond the impact of Phelps and enter the realm of Tiger Woods status?
Tiger Woods status would put her in the crowd of the greatest and most popular athletes we have ever seen in the United States. That’s the class of Michael Jordan, Muhammed Ali and Babe Ruth. The motivating story we hear from Gabby gives us the account that she never gave up and went through a lot of test in her young life to achieve her dreams. From Virginia Beach, VA to London, Gabby-fever is taking over. America is rallying behind her like no other in this Olympics. Her name is highlighted much more than her swimming counterpart Michael Phelps. Although Phelps did go down in history as the most decorated athlete in the Olympics, it looks as if he’s taking a back seat, perhaps rightfully so. We were introduced to Phelps in 2004 and in 2008 he won America over. This year will be his last Olympics and the proverbial torch is being passed. Yes its true in this Olympics Phelps also has more medals, but who has more congratulatory tweets from celebs and endorsement deals in the works?
But how far can Gabby take it? Gabby is 16 years old and, in all intents and purposes, she’s in her prime in her sport. Gymnast started out with the 20’s being their prime years, but the world eventually figured out that the smaller and lighter ones were the people who could perform the more difficult task. So, Olympic gold medalist went from 20-somethings to teenagers and in some cases tweens. This is Gabby’s first and probably her only Olympics. There have been other great gymnast who manage to revive the magical run of one Olympic games to four years later to another, but it is quite rare for a gymnast these days. When 2016 comes around, will Gabby be forgotten about? How will that affect her popularity? She may never have the chance to top Michael Phelps medal total.
Not for nothin’, but Gabby Douglas has the it factor. And whatever it is, whether it’s a phenomenon, a wave of nationalism, or just great athletics, Gabby Douglas is the reason America has to celebrate most of this Olympics. She’s inspiring a nation and rallying thousands to have a renewed interest in gymnastics. Just as Tiger Woods did with golf, we could see a new era in a sport that many have not paid much attention to. Well we are paying attention to Gabby and the world is paying attention to the United States of America because of it. All of which is making her the most talked about person in America over the past week. And being the most talked about person, far surpasses the most talked about Olympian and the most talked about athlete in general. Go Team USA. Go Team Gabby.