By Steve Keating
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – In the world of elite women’s gymnastics, where careers often last as long as the Olympic flame, American Gabby Douglas serves as reminder that fame can indeed be fleeting.
Douglas was the toast of the London Games when she lead the United States to the team title.
On Tuesday, however, she spent much of her time as a cheerleader, competing in just one of four apparatus as Simone Biles led the U.S. charge to a second straight title.
Douglas’s reign as all around champion is also set to come to an end having failed to even qualify for a chance to defend her crown, which is widely expected to be placed on Biles’ head.
Still there was history to be made in Rio on Tuesday as Douglas and team mate Aly Raisman became the first Americans to win back-to-back Olympic team titles, and that, the 21-year-old said, was something to cheer about.
“It was fine, when I was watching I wanted to encourage the girls as much as I can and when I was competing just contribute to Team USA as best as I could,” said Douglas.
“It’s just so special to have this bond with these girls and we all put in so much hard work so when the outcome is great you feel you accomplished something.
“It feels amazing especially to be alongside Aly we did this again and history again. It is just phenomenal.”
If she misses the spotlight, Douglas has not let it show, earnestly encouraging her team mates from the sidelines much of the day.
But when called upon, Douglas also delivered.
Focused and stern faced, Douglas took a deep breath, leapt onto the uneven bars and 35 seconds later nailed her landing, giving a big smile, her work done.
“We never want to go into it like we don’t have to try,” said Douglas.
“We always want to do our best and deliver the best routines we can and have fun and enjoy these moments because they are so special, it’s just amazing to compete for the USA.
“We always want to do our best and just shine bright, I feel like each one of us just want to have fun and not worry about the results.
“We want to work hard and deliver those prefect routines.”
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)