With today marking 100 days until the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil, Gabby Douglas has one thing on her mind: her mother.
Along with mom Natalie Hawkins, the gold medal-winning gymnast and P+G spokesperson (Douglas is a Venus athlete) has partnered with the personal care brand to help promote the short film Strong, the newest tear-jerker from P+G’s ongoing Thank You Mom campaign (watch it below).
InStyle recently caught up with the mother-daughter duo about prepping for 2016, how Gabby, now 20, has changed since her first win in 2012, and the family’s new reality show, all of which provided a sweet peek into their bond.
What does participating in this campaign mean to you?
Natalie: "It’s about moms supporting moms. It’s easy to tear someone down, but when you join together and build each other up, there’s so much strength in that. I love the message of unity, that together we can actually accomplish our goals. If I can be a part of that in any way shape or form, I’m like, sign me up."
Gabby: "It’s very inspiring because it shows all the hard work you put into it and all the hard work moms put it in. It’s just so encouraging and very uplifting. We both relate to it, because when the swimmer goes, 'Mom, I can’t do this anymore!' and the mom says 'You can do it and I know in your heart you can do it,' that really reminded me of when I wanted to quit."
When was that moment?
Gabby: It was in 2012 when I wanted to quit and you [turns to mom] basically said no. [Laughs.] And it wasn’t a NO! it was 'I see that you have this talent and this gift, don’t let it go to waste.'”
Natalie, what is it like for you as a mom to see your daughter have such great successes—and failures?
Natalie: "It’s an amazing feeling to watch your child live their dreams and achieve their goals. My trying moment was in 2011 at Championships when you fell, like, seven times over a span of two days. I didn’t know what to say and I had to find a strong moment for myself because I wanted to help, but sometimes in helping you do more damage. I had to draw on the strength to be like, 'Don’t say anything, let her speak first.' And it worked so beautifully. When we got back to the hotel I said, 'I’m not going to let the image of defeat be ingrained in your mind'—I’m going to start crying reliving this moment!"
Gabby: "Fan it out." [Waves hands in front of her face.]
Natalie: "I know, right? I said, 'You’re going to watch these videos of you executing it right and hitting your routines—that’s the image I want ingrained.'”
With 100 days to go, how are you both feeling?
Gabby: "I’m like, is it really time again? It was just 2012! I feel pretty excited and very pumped up."
How are you dealing with the added pressure that everyone seems to be mentioning with this bid: That only six American women have gone on to compete in a second Olympics and that no woman has repeated winning a gold medal since 1968?
Gabby: "For me, I love gymnastics and I love to compete. I’m just going to go out there and have fun and make it better than last time. That’s what I think about."
How have you changed since the last Olympics four years ago?
Natalie: "You’ve grown up a lot. I feel like you’ve come into your own and you believe in yourself now. You have faith in your abilities. It’s a joy to see you so confident."
Gabby: "Finally! Before, I didn’t have that."
Tell me about your new reality show, Douglas Family Gold (premiering May 25 at 10/9c on Oxygen).
Natalie: "We’re excited because I wanted to be able to show the journey. I get asked so many times, 'How do you raise an Olympian?' It was actually my oldest daughter who came up with the idea, and I thought, let’s do it. If it will help inspire other families and help other moms in their journeys, that’s a vulnerability I’m willing to expose."
You’ve got a lot going on Gabby. What do you do in your downtime?
Natalie: "You’ve been shoe-shopping a lot lately."
Gabby: "I love to shop for nice heels. I’m such a shoe head. Louboutins are my favorite."