Outliers To Age-Defiers: Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles Trying to Become Oldest Female Olympic Gymnasts In Modern Era

Before Simone Biles, there was Dominique Dawes and Gabby Douglas, Black women who have drastically changed the face of gymnastics in the past 30 years. 

Biles, of course, is the most decorated gymnast in history. She’s like the Tom Brady of gymnasts. Dawes, along with teammate Betty Okino, became the first Black woman to win gymnastics medals at the Olympics in Barcelona in 1992.  

Douglas is the first Black woman to win a gold in the all-around and represented the USA in the 2012 London Olympics. 

Though years apart in age, the passion remains equally for all competitors. While Dawes is 47 and has been out of the game for a long time, the 28-year-old Douglas, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, announced on July 13 via her Instagram account that she is returning to gymnastics. 

Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles Team Up Again In 2024 Olympics In Paris?

After withdrawing from the women’s team gymnastics final at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics, citing mental health concerns as she attempted to protect her body and mind, Biles announced her return to the 2024 Paris Olympics two weeks prior to Douglas’ announcement. 

Biles returned to competition with a bang in 2023, winning her eighth national championship and sixth world all-around title to add to an already sterling legacy.

What a legendary moment it would be to have these two women compete in the Olympics on the same team and against each other again. 

Douglas hasn’t competed in any elite gymnastics’ events since the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where she clinched a gold medal in the team event along with the “Final Five,” including Biles, Aly Raisman, Laurie Hernandez, and Madison Kocian.

Neither have anything to prove. For Douglas, it was her need to reconnect with the sport that had brought her so much pleasure and pain. 

In 2017, Douglas and many other female gymnasts came out about being sexually abused by USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. 

“For many years, I’ve had an ache in my heart,” Douglas wrote on social media. “But I didn’t want to keep carrying anger, pain, sadness, or regret and through my tears and hurt, I’ve found peace. I wanted to find joy again for the sport that I absolutely love doing.”

Douglas finished the post by teasing her comeback and showing gratitude for the support of her fans.

“I know I have a huge task ahead of me and I am beyond grateful and excited to get back out on the floor, and even more grateful for all of your support and love. it truly means so much, there’s so much to be said but for now…. let’s do this #2024,” she concluded.

Douglas is trying to become the oldest American female gymnast to compete at the Olympics in more than 70 years, but her road back to the Olympics will have to wait. Douglas was expected to embark on her first competition in eight years, but COVID-19 forced her to withdraw from Winter Cup competition this past weekend.

The 28-year-old can still earn a spot by qualifying for the 2024 Xfinity U.S Gymnastics Championships, to be held in Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, from May 30 to June 2.

Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles Are Trying To Break Age Records

Douglas will have to earn her spot to compete in the championships either through the national team camp in April or by qualifying in the 2024 American Classic set to be held on May 17 and 18, 2024 at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut.

The 26-year-old Biles, now an NFL wife, also withdrew from the Winter Cup, so that’s a tremendous blow to U.S. Gymnastics. Their names alone bring an entirely different audience to the event. They are larger than life athletes with legendary stories. 

It’s understandable, however, how both women want to manage their activity, so as not to get injured before they can even get to Paris. Douglas is an advanced age for a traditional Olympic participant, but Biles is also aiming to become the oldest U.S. female gymnast to compete at the Olympics since 1952.

So these legends are also trying to become age-defiers and take their legacies to another level. Their presence will boost the gymnastics ratings around the world. We already know how they have overcome racism, sexism and cultural insults to reach the top.

People will be tuning in not only to support both of these remarkable women with life stories that transcend the mat and resonate with people all over the world. But it gives the younger generation of fans and gymnasts a chance to see what legends look like up close.

The icing on the cake would be a medal, but both Biles and Douglas have already set a level of excellence, perseverance and championship performance and social impact that few athletes will ever attain.

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