Share “Olympic champ Gabby Douglas nearing return”

Olympic champ Gabby Douglas nearing return

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 23, 2014 at 4:13 pm •  Published: June 23, 2014

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Gabby Douglas can't describe it exactly. It just kind of happened.

At some point over the winter while the defending women's gymnastics Olympic all-around champion hung out with her family in Los Angeles, something clicked.

Rested and healthy following an 18-month sabbatical — if crisscrossing the country and the world as the face of your sport can be called a sabbatical — a familiar feeling returned.

"I just figured it was time to go back," she said.

Back to the sanity of Iowa. Back to coach Liang Chow. Back to the gym. Back to chase history.

No woman has ever successfully defended her Olympic all-around title since 1968.

More than two years out from the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Douglas' comeback is already well underway. It even has a possible target date: the 2014 U.S. Nationals in Pittsburgh later this summer.

The 18-year-old told The Associated Press on Monday she hopes to compete in the all-around title at nationals — where Douglas could face current world all-around champion and good friend Simone Biles — to help her get set for the world championships in China this fall.

"I'm going to be so nervous," Douglas said with a laugh.

Maybe, but not scared.

Despite feeling as if she was "starting from scratch" when she went back to work with Chow in April, Douglas isn't exactly taking things slow.

She's training six days a week and for proof of how serious she is, look no further than her wrists, which are currently several different shades of blue thanks to a series of battles with the uneven bars.

Pressed on why she's attempting something that hasn't been done since Vera Caslavska of Czechoslovakia did it in 1964 and 1968 and Douglas just shrugged her remarkably muscled shoulders.

"I like what I do," she said. "I think my life is better when I just go do it. You can't be worried about 'What if this happens? What if that happens?"

Douglas estimates she's at "80 percent" physically compared to where she was while winning the all-around in London on Aug. 2, 2012.

It's remarkable she considers the gap so small. Making Olympic history and trying to remaining competitive in gymnastics are not two things that walk hand-in-hand.

She admits she wasn't prepared for the deluge that followed the two golds she brought home, one for the all-around and the other while helping the "Fierce Five" to the team title. She thought she could go to dinner in public. She thought she could take a little break and head back to the gym.

She thought wrong.

In addition to a slew of endorsements — including Nike and AT&T among others — and personal appearances, Douglas might be one of the youngest people in the world with their life story already made into a movie. She has her own line of leotards and a seemingly unending string of requests for her time.

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