Peaking at the right time earned Gabby Douglas a gold medal

Maggie Hendricks
Fourth-Place Medal

Every athlete strives not just to have great performances, but to make sure those performances come at the right time. It's not nearly as important for Drew Brees to throw for 400 yards in Week 1 as it is during the Super Bowl. Peaking at the right time is key to any athlete's success.

It's how Gabby Douglas walked away with the all-around gold on Thursday. With the help of her coach Liang Chow, Douglas did the impressive feat of peaking at the two times it was necessary.

[ Video: Will Gabby Douglas win a third gold medal? ]

Olympians in the U.S. have to peak twice. First, at the trials. With the U.S having such a deep bench, every gymnast wanting to make the team had to perform her best. An off day could mean not making the team. With an Olympic spot on the line, Douglas scored a 61.4 on Day 1 and a 62.05 on Day 2. She earned the automatic berth on the U.S. team, but it was just the beginning of her task.

A month later, Douglas had to do it all over again, and somehow managed to peak perfectly on her way to two gold medals. How perfectly? She raised her score 1.967 points from qualifications to the all-around final. In between, she scored a 61.465 in the team final, contributing one third of the points the Fierce Five needed to win the gold. In five days, she competed 12 times and hit 11 routines, only making a major mistake on the floor exercise in qualifications.

One more number to think about? Sixteen, which is Gabby's age.

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