Mom of Olympic Champion Gabby Douglas Opens Up About 'Hurtful' Social Media Bullying
Gabby Douglas’ mom is defending her daughter, saying the Olympic gymnast is “heartbroken" after she became the subject of harsh online trolls.
Her mother, Natalie Hawkins, told CNN Monday: "You go from people's adoration to being the brunt of criticism and hatred. It is hard, because her nature is so giving and so kind."
Last week, the 20-year-old gymnast was blasted for not placing her hand over her heart during the "Star-Spangled Banner."
"It was harsh to boil down your patriotism to one act," Hawkins added. "That doesn't determine how honorable you are, or how happy you are to compete for your country."
Douglas herself is lamenting the recent online bullying she faced at the Olympics, calling it "hurtful."
“When they talk about my hair or not putting my hand over my heart or being very salty in the stands, really criticizing me, for me it was really hurtful,” she told reporters Sunday.
She's also been dubbed "Crabby Gabby" for appearing to not support her teammates.
“I apologize if that made me seem to be really mad in the stands," Douglas told reporters. "I was supporting Aly [Raisman]. I will always will support them and respect them. I don't want anyone to take it as jealous or I wanted attention. Never. I support them and I'm sorry I wasn't showing it."
Four years ago, during the London Olympics, the then-teenager was rudely targeted with some calling her gelled-back ponytail "unkempt."
She held back tears as she spoke with reporters in Rio Sunday as she defended herself: "Either it was about my hair or my hand not over my heart or I look depressed. It was hurtful. It was. It's been kind of a lot to deal with."
Douglas has not won an individual medal. She has only won one gold medal at the Rio games in women’s team all-around.