The past week in Rio, Gabby Douglas failed to achieve the success that she earned four years ago in London after she was shut out from winning any medals for her performance in individual gymnastic events.
On top of that, the American 2012 Olympics overall woman’s gymnastic gold medal champion received a thrashing on social media for not putting her hand over her heart, while the national anthem played during the USA team gold medal ceremony.
Sunday Douglas defended herself from what her mother Natalie Hawkins referred to as “bullying.”
ESPN reported that the twenty-year-old Douglas was baffled by the criticism. “I apologized if I offended anyone… I’ve always said it was an honor to represent the U.S. You always do this for your country, and then, like people say, for yourself and other people.”
The Virginia native, known by many as the Flying Squirrel, admits that she stays away from the internet nowadays because of the negative tweets about her perceived improper decorum during “The Star Spangled Banner.”
“Either it was about my hair or my hand not over my heart [on the medal podium] or I look depressed. … It was hurtful. It was hurtful. It was. It’s been kind of a lot to deal with,” she lamented.
Others also roundly criticize Douglas for not being as supportive of her teammates now that she no longer stands as the centerpiece of the American team. Douglas disagreed on Sunday saying, “I love them. … I always supported them.” She added, “I support them and I’m sorry that I wasn’t showing it,” Douglas said. “And I should have but for me, it’s been a lot. And I’ve been through a lot. I still love the people who love me. Still love them who hate me. I’ve just got to stand on that.”
Simone Biles, the individual all-around gold medal winner in Rio, also disagreed with the criticism of Douglas and said that the team members are like sisters and how that Douglas remains one of her closest friends on the U.S. squad. Aly Raisman, who took second in the women’s all-around, said Douglas helped her and Biles prepare on the morning of the all-around competition.
Hawkins, appearing on CNN’s New Day, told Alisyn Camerota that her daughter (referred to as Crabby Gabby on social media) remains devastated by online snark explaining that she went from “adoration to being the brunt of criticism and hatred… It is hard, because her nature is so giving and so kind.”
Hawkins added that her mom is a Navy veteran and her dad is a Vietnam War veteran, and they never put their hand over their heart during the national anthem, but rather stand at attention or salute.