Gabby Douglas announced her return to gymnastics after a seven-year hiatus. The athlete took to social media to share the news last Thursday. She posted black-and-white photographs and videos of herself training on bars.
“As you all know, I stepped back from the socials, and in that time, I did a lot of journaling, reflecting, soul searching and found myself back where it all began,” Douglas wrote. “For many years, I’ve had an ache in my heart, but I didn’t want to keep carrying anger, pain, sadness, or regret, and through my tears and hurt, I’ve found peace.”
“I wanted to find the joy again for the sport that I absolutely love doing,” she added, also mentioning the “huge task” ahead of her.
Douglas ended her caption with the hashtag #2024, seemingly indicating that she is training for a comeback at the Paris Olympics next summer.
The athlete may be attempting a qualification alongside Simone Biles, who recently announced her return to the sport after a 2-year break, and Olympian Sunsia Lee. Fellow athletes Jade Carey and Jordan Chiles, who competed in the Tokyo Olympics, are also expected to make a return.
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At 16, Douglas became the first Black woman to win the Olympic all-around gymnastics title at the 2012 London Olympics. She helped the U.S. team win gold that year, as well as in 2016. It marked her last time competing for the national team.
A spokesman for the U.S.A. Gymnastics said they weren’t aware of her plans when she missed the Tokyo Games in 2021, according to The New York Times.
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Douglas announced she was taking a break from social media in August.
“I just wanted to let you guys know that I will be taking a step back from the socials to work on myself and focus on my mental health,” she wrote at the time in an Instagram post. “My life has never been smooth or easy. I have carried a heavy weight on my back for quite some time, and it has weighed me down physically, mentally, and emotionally. So many things and people have tried to crush and break me.”
“I no longer want to run but fight and heal. I refuse to be defeated by this weight, I refuse to be hardened by this weight. I want to feel light and happy again,” Douglas added. “I want to be the best representation for all of you and be the best version of myself.”
The gymnast was among the athletes to come forward with sexual abuse allegations against Dr. Lawrence G. Nassar, the doctor for the U.S.A. Gymnastics. He was accused by hundreds of women, including Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman. Nassar pleaded guilty to federal charges and was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison. Last Sunday, he was stabbed at the prison where he is serving his sentence.