Gabby Douglas experienced any form of racism or bullying during her formative training years in Virginia, that's news to Excalibur Gymnastics.
I'd love to know how people feel comfortable telling someone what their experience was (hear me, and hear me good, Rasheeda Louise), but they need to have several seats.
The Virginia Beach, Va. gymnasium that the two-time Olympic gold
medalist referenced in a recent interview with Oprah Winfrey is fighting back
against allegations that it or any of its coaches and gymnasts were racist
"The accusations that are being made against the gymnasts and coaches are
just sickening," Excalibur's Randy Stageburg told Gymnewstics.com in a statement. "Gabby was never a
victim, in fact many would say she was one of the favorites. I never once heard
her complain about girls being mean, funny how it is just now coming
In the "Oprah's Next Chapter" interview, which aired Sunday, the 16-year-old
how she had a tough time assimilating to the environment, which she claims
was tinged with racism.
"I was just, you know, kind of getting racist jokes, kind of being isolated
from the group," she told Winfrey in the interview. "So it was definitely hard.
I would come home at night and just cry my eyes out."
The Olympic athlete even recalled a specific incident, wherein "one of my
teammates was like, 'Could you scrape the bar?' And they were like, 'Why doesn't
Gabby do it, she's our slave.'"
The ill treatment got so bad, Douglas' mom Natalie Hawkins told Winfrey, that
Douglas almost threatened to quit the sport altogether if she couldn't be
transferred to work with another coach.
But Kim Hedeland, the mother of one of Douglas' former teammates, argues that
the kind of bullying Douglas is describing simply didn't exist.
"I don't claim to know everything that happened in the situation with the gym
and its gymnast who is now an Olympic athlete, but I do know that my daughter
loved her like a sister for 7 years," she wrote on the
gym's Facebook page.
"They were often partnered during training and slept in the same room during
travel meets. They attended birthday parties and sleepovers together ... My
daughter says that she was one of her best friends at the gym was very sad when
Douglas also pointed to her race as the crux of why she was bullied, but
according to Excalibur's CEO Gustavo Maure, the accusations of blatant racism
"Gabby's remarks were hurtful and without merit," Maure said in a statement
to E! News. "We've had more African Americans in elite [sic] and on the national
team than any other gym in the country. Her African American former teammates
will answer this serious accusation ... We are good people. We never were
knowingly involved in any type of bullying or racist treatment, like she is