Gymnast and Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas will make an appearance at Tate Student Center on Thursday, Feb. 27. She won’t be tumbling in, though — she’s here for a conversation.
Douglas became the first African American Olympic gymnast to win the Olympic All-around at only 16 years of age. She was a member of the 2012 and the 2016 Olympic gymnastic team, dubbed “The Fierce Five” and “The Final Five,” respectively, by the media.
The University of Georgia’s University Union helped organize the event. Jazmin Lopez, a junior psychology major and the Union Speaks committee director, schedules events for the University Union. She invited Douglas to the university for a number of reasons: to celebrate Black History Month, build anticipation for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and because Douglas is “someone [she] looks up to.”
“It’s perfect timing,” Lopez said.
Vicki Michaelis, professor of sports journalism at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and founder of Grady Sports Bureau, will moderate the event. Michaelis has interviewed “more Olympic athletes than [she] can count,” she said.
Michaelis plans on asking questions about the day that Douglas won the gold medal and about her career.
“I want to see what she remembers about when she won the Olympic gold, which is what cemented her as a legend,” Michaelis said. “She broke the color barrier in gymnastics — it was a very significant day.”
She wanted to moderate because she “likes to help the university when she can” and, because this type of interview is in her area of expertise.
“And anytime you get to talk with an Olympian, you take that shot,” Michaelis said.
There will be 45 minutes of moderated discussion, followed by 15 minutes of audience questions.
Michaelis said audience members will connect with Douglas’ story, as the 2012 Olympics were “a time when [students] were becoming aware of the Olympics, so that was probably a big moment” to see the first African American gymnast win an individual gold medal.
Michaelis said she hopes Douglas will end up doing most of the talking, as her story is what the audience wants to hear.
“I’m hopeful that everybody leaves knowing a little more about her and more about what drives her and what she does in life now,” Michaelis said.