Natalie Hawkins is the mother behind gold medal Olympic gymnast Gabrielle Douglas. Sixteen-year-old Douglas managed to capture the gold medal in the women’s gymnastics all-around, and helped lead the U.S. women’s gymnastics team to the gold medal in team competition. But Gabby couldn’t have done it without the love and support of Natalie, who sacrificed time, money — and even keeping her family together — for her to succeed. Two years ago, Natalie allowed Gabby to move across the country to Des Moines, Iowa, to train with Shawn Johnson’s coach Liang Chow, and her sacrifice paid off.
Just days after Gabby’s ground-breaking win as the first African-American woman to win all-around gold in gymnastics at the Olympics, we spoke to Natalie about how she raised four kids — and an Olympic champion.
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“In 2010, it came to a head and I had to make a decision. There were only two factors to consider: I could either stand in the way of her dreams, or I could get on board with it. And I knew she needed another coach. I knew she needed a higher level of coaching. There were a lot of different components. Her former coach was not a gymnast, he was a swimmer. [Her current coach Liang] Chow was a former gymnast with the Republic of China. He was an amazing gymnast himself, and he produced a gymnast to the level of Shawn Johnson. What might he be able to do with my daughter?”
– Natalie Hawkins, mom to Olympic all-around gold medal gymnast Gabrielle Douglas, talks to The Frisky about her decision to let her daughter leave home to train with gymnastics coach Liang Chow. Chow’s gym in Iowa is located across the country from the family’s Virginia home and Douglas lived with a host family while she trained. We were so psyched to see Gabby win gold in all-arounds and do her part to help her team win gold as well — can you imagine how proud her mom must be? Congrats to Gabby and her whole family for all that she has achieved this week.