By Hannington Dia
This past Sunday, two-time Olympic gold gymnastGabrielle Douglas (pictured left) told Oprah Winfrey on her “Next Chapter” show that her teammates at Excalibur Gym in her native Virginia bullied and racially taunted her. Citing alleged “slave” remarks during training, the comments were reportedly behind Douglas’ decision to move to Iowa to continue her gymnastics career. But now, Excalibur Gym is fighting back against Gabby’s claims, saying that “Gabby’s remarks were hurtful and without merit.”
On the “Next Chapter,” Douglas discussed how she was called a “slave” while she trained at Excalibur Gym,”I was just, you know, kind of getting racist jokes, kind of being isolated from the group. So it was definitely hard. I would come home at night and just cry my eyes out.
“One of my teammates was like, ‘Could you scrape the bar?’” Douglas continued. “And they were like, ‘Why doesn’t Gabby do it, she’s our slave?’
“I was the only African American at that gym. I definitely felt isolated. Why am I deserving this? Is it because I’m Black? — those thoughts were going through my mind.”
On Tuesday, Excalibur CEO Gustavo Maure debunked Douglas’ claim, adding that she wasn’t the only African American at the gym, “We’ve had more African Americans in elite and on the national team than any other gym in the country. We are good people. We never were knowingly involved in any type of bullying or racist treatment, like she is accusing Excalibur.”
Another gymnast who claims to have trained with Douglas believes “the accusations that are being made against the gymnasts and coaches are just sickening.” On Gymnewstics.com, Randy Stageburgsays she saw “Dena [head coach Dena Walker] and Gustavo put so much of their time and effort in to Gabby and the other athletes, no matter their race.”
What do you think about Gabby’s statements and Excalibur’s response?