A lot has happened since Gabrielle Douglas vaulted and tumbled her way through the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, becoming the first African-American to win a gold medal in the individual all-around gymnastics competition.
She’s walked the red carpet, chatted up the first lady and met Oprah.
The 4-foot-11, 17-year-old gold medalist has written two books and landed a slew of endorsement deals.
A movie deal for Douglas, who is eyeing the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, may not be far behind.
“Things have definitely changed,” said Douglas, who will be in Atlanta at 6 p.m. Friday at the Shrine of the Black Madonna Cultural Center and Bookstore to sign copies of her first book, “Grace, Gold & Glory: My Leap of Faith.” “I’ve met a lot of amazing people, and fans come up to me and say very kind words. It’s just been fun.”
In her book, Douglas doesn’t sidestep uncomfortable subjects such as being homeless, her troubled relationship with her father, and the racism and bullying she faced in early training. Yes, she even addresses the much-talked about hair drama.
Her second book, “Raising the Bar,” comes out in late April.
Q: I found it pretty interesting that just a few months before the Games you told your mother that you wanted to quit gymnastics. You wanted to perhaps try track, dancing or work at Chick-fil-A. How did that conversation go?
A: We were on our way to practice. I typed on a little notepad on the phone (that) I didn’t want to do this anymore. I want to quit. I showed it to her and she read it, and she was just heartbroken. The only reason I wanted to quit was because I was very homesick.
Q: How did she convince you that would not be a good idea?
A: My support system around me — like my coaches, my host family, my siblings and my mom — told me to just keep fighting. It was six or seven months before the Olympic Games, and it was going to go by fast. And I knew and they knew that if I had quit I would just be on the couch watching the Olympic Games and I would have so much regret.
Q: You’ve met Oprah and first lady Michelle Obama. Who’s is next on your list?
A: I’d really like to meet the president’s daughters.
Q: I notice in your book, you separate the sections where you talk about your relationship with your father. … How would you describe your relationship now?
A: I think the last time I talked with him was probably at the Olympic trials. Training for the Olympics is very hard. It’s hard to communicate even with my mom. … There’s so much going on. I really haven’t had a chance. Our relationship is not really well right now. I’m just honored to have Travis, my host dad. He’s been that father figure to me.
Q: You’re 17 now. … Do you worry about aging out of the sport?
A: I do sometimes worry about that, but I don’t focus on it because I have a great body type and I still have my flexibility. I still have a few more tricks under my belt. I’m still very young right now, and there’s a lot more that I want to accomplish.
Q: There was a lot of talk about your relationship with your teammates during the Games. Can you clear that up for us?
A: Out on the floor, you can see we just meshed together. We are a team. … We were cheering and supporting each other all the way. When we got a little nervous, we would give each other pep talks. … I love those girls.
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