Gabby Douglas Is Today’s Olympian To Watch: Get Acquainted With “The Flying Squirrel”

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Gabby Douglas
Before we all put on sleep masks and ear plugs for the day to avoid spoilers about who wins today’s Women’s Gymnastics All-Around Final, let’s take a closer look at one of the favorites. 16-year-old Gabby Douglas flew (quite literally) onto our radar at the Olympic trials, where she edged out reigning world champ and teammate Jordyn Wieber for the #1 spot. At 4’11″, G-Dougs is the shortest shorty on the team, but her presence is huge and we can’t wait to watch her battle it out with fellow superstar Aly Raisman tonight for the gold.

1. Gabby was nicknamed the “Flying Squirrel” by National Team Coordinator/Legend Márta Károlyi for her soaring abilities on the uneven bars.

2. She was born on December 31, 1995 – the last possible day to be age eligible to compete at the 2011 World Championship, where she joined forces with Wieber and Raisman to win the team gold medal, beating out Russia and China.

[Photo: Martin Schoeller for TIME Magazine]

3. Gabby’s gymnastics career kicked off at the wee age of 6. The natural athlete won a state championship within two years.

[Photos: NBC]

4. At age 14, Douglas left her family in Virginia Beach and moved to West Des Moines, Iowa to train with Olympian Shawn Johnson‘s coach Liang Chow. While she was initially starstruck by Johnson, they were fast friends and she snagged some medal-worthy tips along the way.

5. When Gabby and the Fab Five were featured in Sports Illustrated last month, it was the first time an entire gymnastics team graced the cover. As if that wasn’t an honor enough, Gabby covered Time Magazine solo two days later.

6. Her Twitter feed is star-studded. In the last week, Gabby has retweeted shout-outs from Justin Bieber, Trey Songz, Sanaa Lathan, Pink, Lady Gaga, Oprah AND POTUS Barack Obama. There’s no doubt the teensie gymnast is living her best life. She fangirled out and tweeted the photo below with NBA star and fellow Team USA member Carmelo Anthony with simply “EEEE!”

7. Gabby is the first African American to make the women’s Olympic gymnastics team since Dominique Dawes in 2000, with whom she is often compared.

8. We’d all get along with Gabby just fine, as she has stated her favorite book to be Twilight. Holla! Team Edward for life!

Gravity-defying photos below.

View Photo Gallery

[Photos: Getty Images]

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