*Gabrielle Douglas, who on Thursday became the first African American gymnast to win the all-around event at the Olympics, helped NBC draw 35.7 million viewers, according to fast affiliate numbers. That’s up eight percent from the same night at the Beijing Olympics four years ago.
Already a team gold medal winner at the London Olympics, the 17-year-old’s win in the prestigious all-around event was significant in several ways: she beat the highly touted Russian favorite, defied those uncertain that she would be able to handle the pressure, and became the first ever person of color to win this event. Needless to say, she has gotten her share of attention online.
Twitter exploded when NBC broadcast her win — even with the tape delay — and she received plenty of shoutouts from celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, Gabrielle Union, Michael Phelps, Octavia Spencer, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Snooki, Elizabeth Banks and ultimate Olympic tweeter Samuel L. Jackson, among many others. And that comes in addition to the mention she got from President Obama on Wednesday.
Almost immediately, Kelloggs announced that Douglas would grace the cover of a Corn Flakes box, releasing the mock-up for all to see. It should be one of many promotional materials for the young athlete.
She also published a column with ESPN, giving her first person take on the road to gold.
“People have asked if I felt like I was on fire here in London, but I just feel normal, the same as I do every day in practice. The difference has been that I was ready to seize the moment, to focus and to trust in what I can do,” Douglas wrote. “You say you want to do it and you dream about it every day, but then when it happens, it’s hard to believe it really has. Tonight, when the U.S. flag was raised and the national anthem played, there were so many camera flashes going off I felt like I was at a concert.
“And the crazy thing was, they were all taking pictures of me.”
And then there’s this silliness…
There’s a contingent of the black blogosphere that has a problem with Gabby’s hair, significant enough for journalist Alison Samuels to write a column about it in today’s Daily Beast.
Titled, “Gabby Douglas Takes Two Olympic Golds…And Hair Criticism,” the piece points out: “The 4-foot-11 Douglas appears to have chemically relaxed natural hair, to which she has added a human-hair ponytail for height. She apparently then slicks her hair back with a heavy layer of gel to encourage it to stay in place during her high-energy performances.”
The below excerpts from the article seem to encapsulate both sides of the debate.
“I love how she’s doing her thing and winning,’’ says 22-year-old Latisha Jenkins of Detroit told The Daily Beast. “But I just hate the way her hair looks with all those pins and gel. I wish someone could have helped her make it look better since she’s being seen all over the world. She representing for black women everywhere.’”
“Black women can’t win for losing,’’ says Nina Barnes, a 25-year-old semi-pro on the tennis circuit who says she’s struggled with her own hair issues while playing. “You’re out there to compete and prove you have this amazing talent. You do what you can with your hair but it’s not something you worry about too much. You can’t.’’ Barnes, of Las Vegas, says she’s tried several different hairstyles with her medium-length tresses while playing before deciding to just get braids.