Gabrielle Douglas, who catapulted into history as the first African-American to win a gold medal in the women’s individual all-around gymnastics event at the London Olympics, might seem young, at 16, to be publishing an autobiography. But in Grace, Gold & Glory: My Leap of Faith (Zondervan), written with Michelle Burford, Douglas (her first name means “God’s able-bodied one”) discusses how her faith helped her in her journey out of poverty and beyond adversity.
How has faith helped you reach your goals and handle your success?
Faith has played a big role in my life, and I don’t know where I would be without it. God gave me the faith and talent to go to the Olympics, and I pray before every competition, so it’s a part of me. I hope readers will be motivated and inspired by my book, because it shows that I went through hardship. Even though you are going through that, you can still achieve your dreams, and it doesn’t matter how much money you have or what your nationality is, if you believe 100% in yourself.
Do you ever have doubts about faith?
Never. I mean, my mom always exposed me and my siblings to Christianity. I never have any doubt about sharing my faith because I feel like if God has given me my talent, I can speak out about my faith.
How do you feel about grace?
I love the grace of gymnastics and the grace of God. The beauty of the sport is so graceful, and that means a whole lot to me.
What is your favorite prayer before you perform your routines?
I just tell myself scriptures to keep me motivated and to get me fired up. Prayers like “I can do all things through Christ” and “Do not fear, only believe.” It motivates me so much.
Did your mom’s love of Judaism rub off on you?
My mom has felt a connection to Judaism, and I’m glad she took me and my siblings to synagogue when we were younger. We used to write Hebrew and celebrate Hanukkah.
Do you have advice for young people who have trouble finding the kind of faith you have?
Talk about it. Tell the world about it. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, if it’s a part of you, definitely speak about it. God has been so great to me.