Nicknamed the "Flying Squirrel," home-schooled junior Gabby Douglas dazzled the world on Thursday by winning the all-around gymnastics gold medal at the London Olympics. Earlier in the week, the 16-year-old won her first gold medal as a member of the Olympic team champion.
She is the third straight American to win the all-around gold medal and the first African American.
The 4-foot-11 mighty mite scored 62.232 points to defeat runner-up Viktoria Komova (61.973) and third-place Aliya Mustafina (59.566), both of Russia. She scored 15.966 on vault, 15.733 on the uneven bars, 15.500 on the balance beam and 15.033 on floor exercise.
Douglas is a native of Virginia Beach, Va., but has trained for the past two years in West Des Moines, Iowa, with Chow's Gymnastics and Dance Institute. Former Olympian Shawn Johnson also trained at Chow's.
The bubbly Douglas told USA Gymnastics, "I definitely had this amazing feeling. I just told myself, 'Believe. Don't fear. Just believe.' I didn't really think about making mistakes. I just wanted to represent everyone, not just myself - Team USA, coaches, family. I wanted to show my best routines and just enjoy the moment."
Said her coach, Liang Chow: "She is a very graceful gymnast and also she has the strength and determination. I am totally beside myself. I think it was a wonderful night and for me as a coach, that was a wonderful dream come true - to have an Olympic champion."
According to coaches, Douglas' improvement over the last year has been phenomenal.
"She showed such great improvement, it is incredible in such a short time," Women's National Team Coordinator Martha Karolyi said. "I have never seen an average but good gymnast five months ago climb up to be the best in the world. That's the truth."
Douglas will compete in the uneven bars individual finals on Monday and the balance beam on Tuesday.
Aly Raisman, a recent graduate of Needham (Mass.)
, tied for third with Mustafina, but finished fourth due to tie-breaker rules.