Gabby Douglas chases more gold in individual beam
LONDON -- Gabby Douglas is back for her grand finale.
Already a two-time gold medalist, the American teen nicknamed the Flying Squirrel has a chance for one more title before she leaves the London Games, competing Tuesday on the balance beam.
Even Douglas wouldn't have expected to make the final in the event a month ago, considering she had been so shaky in training. A fall off the beam on the second day of the U.S. championships in June cost her the national title.
But lately Douglas has the highest scores of anybody on the talented U.S. women's roster. She is determined to keep that run going and finish strong after placing eighth -- and last -- in the uneven bars final Monday with a score of 14.9.
"Beam has been excellent. If I can just do what I did in the all-around finals or team finals, then I'll be good," said Douglas, who won gold in the all-around and team competitions last week. "I'm going to get a lot of rest, just rest up, and do a lot of therapies and relax my body and hopefully prepare for that."
American Danell Leyva, bronze medalist in the men's all-around, competes on high bar Tuesday along with teammate Jonathan Horton.
Also Tuesday, the two U.S. women's beach volleyball pairs play semifinal matches at Horse Guards Parade and could set up an all-American final. Two-time defending gold medalists Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor take on Beijing bronze medalists Xue Chen and Zhang Xi of China, while No. 2 American tandem April Ross and Jennifer Kessy face reigning world champions Juliana and Larissa of Brazil.
The 16-year-old Douglas would much prefer gold than a second-place silver to match that sparkly silver leotard she wore for the bars Monday.
She is admittedly tired at this stage of the Summer Games. She has endured a whirlwind of public appearances and media obligations after her all-around victory -- and she hoped to escape the spotlight for a night and take advantage of some much-needed downtime in the athletes village.
"It hasn't really been hard because we're in the village, so we're kind of caged in," she said. "We can't, like, leave and the media can't come in, so we're definitely on lockdown. I think toward the end of the Olympics you get mentally and physically tired and you're just, like, drained."
Douglas and her U.S. teammates heard from President Obama after winning the team gold last Tuesday, the first for the American women in team competition since the Magnificent Seven of the 1996 Atlanta Games. Then, she followed that up by beating Russia's Viktoria Komova on Thursday night to become the first African-American gymnast to win the Olympic all-around event.
With all the attention now on Douglas' every move, she is working carefully to discover how best to deal with her newfound fame.
"It's pretty exciting, but we have to learn to plug it in and unplug it," she said. "I've been getting a lot of rest, but sometimes you can't sleep because you're either tossing and turning or it's too hot in the rooms or stuff like that."
No wonder she's so wound up.
Douglas visited NBC's "Today" show. She got her grinning, celebratory face -- not to mention that shiny medal -- on the Kellogg's Corn Flakes box after her all-around win. These days, Douglas walks into O2 Arena to rousing, raucous cheers from a flag-waving crowd and has gained popularity worldwide. She politely waves in each direction to acknowledge her throng of supporters.
Douglas hopes to set off one more festive party Tuesday before she's through.
"I want to finish strong and I'm going to do as best as I can," Douglas said. "Fresh day. Leave on a good note."
NBC Tuesday Olympic prime time schedule:
8 p.m.-midnight (EDT/PDT)
Gymnastics: individual event gold medal finals in men's parallel bars, men's high bar, women's balance beam, women's floor exercise. Track and field: gold medal finals in men's 1500m, men's high jump, women's 100m hurdles. Beach Volleyball: semifinal.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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