Gabrielle Douglas knows how to grab your attention. Whether by using enormous release moves on the uneven bars or flashing a dazzling smile, the 16-year-old Olympic hopeful can get you to watch her.
If you don't? That's your mistake.
"Root for me, and thank you if you do," Douglas told Fourth-Place Medal at the recent U.S. Classic. "And if you don't, you're going to miss out."
[ Photos: See more of Gabrielle Douglas in action ]
One person Douglas is happy to have rooting for her from nearby is her father, a member of the Air National Guard. He recently finished a tour in Afghanistan, but is now home and around to cheer her to the Olympic team.
With just five spots and so many talented, experienced gymnasts in the mix, each woman needs to show how she can contribute to the ultimate goal of winning team gold in London. Douglas' best event is the uneven bars, the apparatus that has traditionally been a weak spot for Americans.
Her release moves score big points and wow crowds. How impressive are they? Just watch. (The routine starts 30 seconds in.)
See why U.S. team coordinator Martha Karolyi nicknamed her "The Flying Squirrel?"
This weekend at the Visa Championships in St. Louis, Douglas and the rest of the top American gymnasts will take another step closer to London. The top 15 men and women from this event will advance to the Olympic Trials, held the last weekend in June in San Jose. Members of the 2011 world team, which won gold, will compete against veteran Olympians like Nastia Liukin and Alicia Sacramone for one of the coveted spots.
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Douglas knows she has to perform now because Karolyi and the rest of the selection committee is watching.
"This is the Olympic year, and I know Martha is watching us and watching every little thing we do. This is the first step."
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