After Gabby Douglas completed the last routine and last post-competition interview of her Olympic career, her eyes welled with tears after someone asked her about the latest wave of criticism she had caught back in the U.S.
“I tried to stay off the internet because there’s just so much negativity,” Douglas admitted when asked about the stories that went viral after the U.S. won the team competition; the articles suggested she didn’t exhibit proper decorum on the medal stand. “Either it was about my hair or my hand not over my heart [on the medal podium] or I look depressed. … It was hurtful. It was hurtful. It was. It’s been kind of a lot to deal with.”
Douglas apologized if she offended anyone by merely standing at attention rather than copying her four teammates, who had their hands over their hearts. “I’ve always said it was an honor to represent the U.S. You always do this for your country, and then, like people say, for yourself and other people,” she added.
After Douglas thanked everyone in the press area , she walked down the hallway at Olympic Arena and in a quiet corner, facing a wall, broke down in tears, ESPN reports.
In a Reuters story posted Sunday, Douglas’ mother, Natalie Hawkins, referred to what her daughter has been through as “bullying.”
“What I saw in the stands,” Hawkins said, “was someone who was hurting and she was also angry. 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. You name it, she got trampled,” Hawkins added. “What did she ever do to anyone?”
“When I heard some of the comments, I was finally like ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, that’s far from me and far from my personality at all,” Douglas said. “I’ve been through a lot. A lot. Sometimes I sit back and say, ‘Wait. What did I do to disrespect people? What have I done to disrespect the USA?'”
“I don’t get that part,” Douglas said, tearing up again. “I’m sorry.”