We Live in a World in Which Gold-Medalist Gabby Douglas Apologizes to Critics for Not Smiling

Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images

After being on the receiving end of all kinds of hurtful and meaningless criticism during the Rio Olympic Games, Gabby Douglas finally had a chance to respond to people who said she wasn’t patriotic enough, didn’t style her hair well enough, didn’t perform strongly enough, and didn’t smile. At a press conference in Rio, Gabby addressed these comments through tears.

“When they talk about my hair or me not putting my hand up on my heart or me being very salty in the stands, they’re really criticizing me, and it doesn’t really feel good,” she said. “It was a little bit hurtful.” Douglas’s mom addressed the comments last week, asking, “What did she ever do to anyone?”

Douglas was barred from the women’s all-around finals because of a rule that says only two athletes from each country can compete. She had hoped to go to the all-around finals to defend her gold medal from 2012, but instead her teammates Aly Raisman and Simone Biles represented the U.S. in that competition. “Everything I’ve gone through has been a lot this time around,” Douglas said, “and I apologize if [I seemed] really mad in the stands. I wasn’t. I was supporting Aly. And I always will support them and respect them in everything they do. I never want anyone to take it as I was jealous or I wanted attention. Never. I support them, and I’m sorry that I wasn’t showing it.”

She continued: “I’ve been through a lot. I still love them. I still love the people who love me. Still love them who hate me. I’m just going to stand on that.”

Near Tears, Gabby Douglas Addresses Critics