Bronwyn Isaac
September 07, 2017 3:13 pm
Luisa Dörr for TIME

Gabby Douglas’s interview is part of TIME Firsts, a multimedia project featuring 46 groundbreaking women. Watch the rest of the videos at Time.com/Firsts. Buy the book at the TIME Shop.

Often, it’s far easier to see someone’s star power from the outside. When then 16-year-old Gabby Douglas became the first African American all-around champion in an event at the 2012 Olympics, the world watched with equal parts awe and recognition. Unbeknownst to us, the teen athlete was just as shocked by her newfound power as we were.

While millions watched the Olympic gymnast Douglas perform acrobatic wonders from the comfort of their couch, her mother and sister saw years of encouragement come to fruition.

In a newly-released interview with TIME Firsts, Douglas shared how she started doing gymnastics in the first place, and the failure that pushed her to become a world champion.

In a sweet revelation, Douglas explained that her older sister is the reason she started doing gymnastics in the first place. Her bond with her sister and mother was, and is, the glue that keeps her going.

While the larger public knows Douglas as a record-winning champ, she told TIME it was during times of failure and embarrassment that drove her greatness.

She added,

Currently, Douglas has taken a year off gymnastics and is keeping busy with a variety of new pursuits, including taking acting classes. Regardless of whether she returns to the gym, or retires permanently, it’s clear the Douglas has the work ethic to succeed in whatever she decides to do.

You can buy the book at the TIME Shop, here.

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