Gary resident could be headed overseas to see granddaughter in Olympics
BY RYAN HASKELL Post-Tribune correspondent June 11, 2012 9:42PM
Gabby Douglas competes on the uneven bars during the women's senior division at the U.S. gymnastics championships on Sunday, June 10, 2012, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Updated: July 13, 2012 6:27AM
Gary resident Theodore Hawkins spent the weekend in St. Louis cheering on his granddaughter, Gabby Douglas, in the national gymnastic championships.
Soon, he could be heading to London to watch her vie for an Olympic gold medal.
The 16-year-old Douglas, who was born in Norfolk, Va., finished second to reigning world champion Jordyn Wieber, losing by 0.2 points.
A fall off the balance beam was the only thing holding Douglas back from winning her first national championship.
But that should only motivate her more with the U.S. Olympics trials coming up in San Jose, Calif., then the Olympic games at the end of July.
“I feel really great,” Douglas said in a phone conversation Monday. “The plan was to go out there and perform the best I could… I had a little mishap on the beam but I’m a fighter and I pulled it through. I’ll put (the fall) in the back of my mind and use it as motivation for the Olympic trials.”
Douglas, who began her competitive career in 2003, hasn’t officially made the Olympic team yet but she is considered one of the locks to make the team. Five gymnasts will be selected in total after the trials in San Jose, with up to three alternates also being selected. Fifteen gymnasts will be competing at the trials that run from June 28-July 1.
“This is the time to push it,” Douglas said of her plans over the next two weeks. “These are the golden years and the most crucial and painful but the happiest moments of your life.”
Douglas, who was nicknamed the “Flying Squirrel” by national gymnastics coordinator Marta Karolyi at the 2011 world championships, bounced back from her disappointing fall from the beam to record 15.300 on the floor routine, a 15.800 on the vault and 15.850 on the uneven bars.
She said she loves to perform for the crowd and that was evident over the weekend.
“It’s an amazing feeling when you go out there and win a title or event,” she said. “I love to go out there and perform; it’s such a happy time in my life.”
It’s a happy time for Hawkins, too.
T-shirts and posters are being printed to help raise funds for the trip to London. But he wouldn’t commit to London because she hasn’t officially made the team yet.
“We’re trying to do something to get there as a family,” Hawkins said. “But we’ve got to wait until the trials.
“She’s such a great athlete. I’ve been thinking about (where she got her gymnastic talent) and she definitely got that from the Hawkins’ side of the family. I remember her jumping around the house and furniture when she was a little girl.”
And now she’s one stop from being an Olympic athlete.