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When Gabby Douglas made gymnastics history at the 2012 Olympics

When Gabby Douglas made gymnastics history at the 2012 Olympics

In less than a year, Gabby Douglas went from seventh at the U.S. Championships to gold at the 2012 London Games, becoming the first Black gymnast to win the Olympic all-around.

Douglas competed at one more Olympics in 2016, earning repeat team gold, then left the sport for six years.

She returns to competition at Saturday's Winter Cup, the first significant meet of the year as gymnasts prepare for the U.S. Championships and Olympic Trials in May and June. The five-woman Olympic team will be named after trials.

Douglas decided after a difficult 2016 that she was done with the sport, though she never announced a retirement.

By 2022, she was motivated while watching gymnastics to return, in part to have a better ending than in 2016.

“I would just love to go back out there and represent USA just one more time and just to have that feeling of being a part of something, being a part of a team again, would be amazing and a huge honor,” she said earlier this month.

Douglas was born at 6:47 p.m. on Dec. 31, 1995, which is significant because it made her eligible for senior competition in 2011 by less than six hours. Female gymnasts can compete on the senior level in the year in which they turn 16.

So Douglas gained valuable experience in the pre-Olympic year, placing seventh in the all-around at her first senior nationals and making the six-woman team for the world championships after a selection camp.

She was the third U.S. all-arounder at the October 2011 Worlds and competed on one event (uneven bars) in the team final.

Douglas' breakout came the following March, four months before the Olympics, at Madison Square Garden for the American Cup, then the most prestigious annual international event held in the U.S.

She competed as an alternate since the U.S.’ two official spots were taken by Jordyn Wieber and Aly Raisman, the top Americans from 2011. Nevertheless, Douglas posted an all-around score that would have won the meet over Wieber.

Douglas then outscored the 2011 World all-around champion Wieber at the Olympic Trials.

At the London Games, she edged Russian Viktoria Komova by 259 thousandths of a point in the all-around final. She became the first Black gymnast to win the title and the fourth American woman after Mary Lou Retton, Carly Patterson and Nastia Liukin.

"It is everything I thought it'd be," Douglas, who left her Virginia Beach home at age 14 to live with a host family and train in Iowa, said on NBC that day. "It means so much. All the hard work and dedication and effort put in the gym and hard days. Hard days are the best because that's what champions are made, so if you push through the hard days, you can get through anything."