The strongest impression Gabby Douglas made Saturday may have come during her weakest event.
The gymnast in training at Chow’s Gymnastics in West Des Moines was seconds into her balance beam routine at the U.S. Classic when her footing proved faulty and a hard fall seemed inevitable.
She spent a long moment trying to gather herself, then reached down and placed both hands on the beam, steadying herself enough to complete the routine without hitting the mat.
“In my first skill, I had a big wobble,” the 16-year-old native of Virginia said. “I was not coming off the beam. I just put my head together and was like, ‘I just have to finish this beam routine. It’s not over.’ So I pulled my thoughts together and it happened.”
If the young girls gathered at the UIC Pavilion on Saturday were choosing the U.S. Olympic team, it’s clear that Douglas would be a part of it. They were screaming her name and pleading for autographs long after she faltered to a seventh-place showing on the beam — to go with an expected impressive win on the uneven bars and a tie for third on the floor exercise.
But Martha Karolyi is the no-nonsense coordinator of the national team, and she’ll decide which five gymnasts to take to London in July. Douglas made a different impression on her.
“I think Gabby is in the right place. Her bar routine is very impressive,” Karolyi said.