Olympic gymnasts set to tumble into Consol Energy Center
For 16-year-old Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas, the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London were the end of one journey and the beginning of another.
As a member of the U.S. Women's Gymnastics team, she earned the distinction of being the first American gymnast to win gold in the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympics.
She joins the four other members of the Olympics' “Fierce Five” USA team — Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney — along with other past and current champions at the Pittsburgh stop of the 2012 Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions on Friday.
Douglas says she is enjoying the 40-city tour, which started Sept. 8 in California and is winding down Sunday after performances in Pittsburgh, Hartford and Brooklyn.
“I'm having fun, meeting the people and getting the crowds to interact with us,” she says. “It's a big celebration for the Olympics, and no one is there to judge you. There's no competition, no pressure.”
When the tour ends, the teen from Virginia Beach, who lives and trains in Des Moines, will head back to the gym to begin training for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. But before that, she has other plans — including endorsements, a book due for release next month, and an appearance on her favorite television show, “The Vampire Diaries,” scheduled to air Nov. 29.
She says she looks forward to the next Olympics, but she's also taking time to savor the new experiences she is being offered as a result of her athletic accomplishments. Her latest honor is being named one of the “Women of the Year” alongside first lady Michelle Obama and appearing on the cover of the December issue of Essence magazine.
“It will go by so quickly,” Douglas says of her newfound fame. “I'm cherishing every single moment of it.”
Another headliner at the Consol Energy Center show will be Olympic gold medalist Nastia Liukin, who was the individual all-around gold medalist at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the 2007 World Champion on the balance beam, and the 2005 World Champion on the uneven bars.
Liukin, of Parker, Texas, ended her competitive career earlier this year when a fall in the Olympic trials kept her from earning a spot on the 2012 Summer Olympics team. She shares the distinction of being one of only four American women — including Douglas — who has won individual Olympic gold medals in all-around gymnastics.
Although she didn't compete, Liukin accompanied the U.S. team to London this summer, where she was part of NBC's coverage of the games and served as an athlete representative for the Federation of International Gymnasts. In addition to performing in the Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions, she is part of the creative team behind the production.
“In my solo number, I step outside of my comfort zone and have an opportunity to perform some Cirque du Soleil-type choreography,” Liukin says. After the tour, she says she will be moving to New York in January to study sports management at New York University.
The Kellogg's tour cast features members of the men's and women's 2011 World Championships and 2012 Olympic teams, along with past Olympians and U.S. medalists in men's, women's, rhythmic and acrobatic gymnastics and trampoline and tumbling.
Candy Williams is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.