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Gabby Douglas: from high 'maintenance' gymnast to Olympic champion

A year ago, Gabby Douglas wasn't seen as a potential Olympic all-around gymnastics champion. But the London Games have confirmed her meteoric rise into gymnastics' elite.

Douglas won gold in the women's all-around gymnastics final Thursday night.
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When Gabrielle Douglas won gold in the women's all-around gymnastics final Thursday night, she made it look easy, because that is what Olympic champions are meant to do. 

The only surprising part, perhaps, was that it was Gabrielle Douglas. 

With a score of 62.232, Ms. Douglas topped Russia Victoria Komova by 0.259 points. Russian Aliya Mustafina and American Alexandra Raisman both finished behind with identical scores of 59.566, but the tiebreaker favored Ms. Mustafina for bronze.

So stunning has been Douglas's improvement during recent months, that her victory was no shock. In some quarters, she had been seen as the favorite. From the focal distance of a year ago, however, her Olympic all-around title is nothing short of astounding. 

Asked if he could have imagined this two years ago when he became Douglas's coach, Liang Chow answered, "no."

Martha Karolyi, the team coordinator and wife of legendary coach Bela, who has seen a few gymnasts in her time, added: "I have never seen a gymnast climb from an average gymnast to the best in the world in five months."  

Focus was a question mark

Average, she conceded, is a relative term. Douglas has always been "very talented." The talent isn't what needed improving. The focus that made Thursday night possible? That's been two years in the making. 

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