Gabby Douglas won a gold medal during last week's women's gymnastics team all-around at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. However, her second Olympic Games seem to have been more tearful than joyful.
After Internet trolls attacked the 20-year-old for her hair during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, during which she took home two gold medals for the team and individual all-around finals, Gabby has encountered more criticism this time around. She has been called out on social media for everything from her hair to appearing disrespectful during the team all-around medal ceremony to her seemingly sour attitude while her teammates Simone Biles and Aly Raisman competed for the individual all-around gold.
Gabby finally responded to the comments during a press conference following her last event at the Rio Olympics, the uneven bars in which she placed seventh. Though Gabby told reporters that she has avoided the Internet while in Rio because of all the "negativity," it has still taken a toll on her. “When they talk about my hair or me not putting my hand up on my heart or me being very salty in the stands, they’re really criticizing me, and it doesn’t really feel good,” Gabby said while tearing up, according to The Washington Post. “It was a little bit hurtful.”
After encountering criticism for not placing her hand over her heart as the national anthem played during the medal ceremony for the team all-around, Gabby posted a lengthy tweet defending her actions. "In response to a few tweets I saw tonight, I always stand at attention out of respect for our country whenever the national anthem is played. I never meant any disrespect and apologize if I offended anyone," she wrote. "I'm so overwhelmed at what our team accomplished today and overjoyed that we were able to bring home another gold for our country!"
Gabby's mom Natalie Hawkins also fired back at her daughter's critics in an interview with Reuters published Sunday. "You name it and she got trampled," Natalie said. "What did she ever do to anyone?"
Natalie also spoke about how the social media criticism has affected Gabby and her entire family. "We've been brought to many tears because I don't know what she's done to warrant such an attack," she shared. "To me it looks like she is being bullied."
Gabby's mom went on to say that she believes her daughter's facial expressions while watching the individual all-around final was the result of all of the criticism she has received during the Olympics. "What I saw in the stands was someone who was hurting and she was also angry," Natalie said. "What was going through her head was 'I'm being attacked for everything I do so I might as well not do anything. Because no matter what I do, I am being attacked.'"
Gabby also later apologized if she seemed upset during the individual all-around final at the press conference. “Everything I’ve gone through has been a lot this time around, and I apologize if [I seemed] really mad in the stands. I wasn’t. I was supporting Aly. And I always will support them and respect them in everything they do. I never want anyone to take it as I was jealous or I wanted attention. Never. I support them, and I’m sorry that I wasn’t showing it," she explained. “I still love them. I still love the people who love me. Still love them who hate me. I’m just going to stand on that.”