Gabby Douglas on How Falling 7 Times at an Event Led to Olympic Gold

Gabby Douglas's interview is part of Time Firsts, a multimedia project featuring 46 groundbreaking women. Watch the rest of the videos at the book at the Time Shop now.

Gabby Douglas may be an Olympic champion, but that doesn't mean she's immune to failure. Far from it, actually.

The talented gymnast opened up in Time's exclusive Firsts series about injuries and poor performance only one year before she dominated the 2012 London Olympics, and we think everyone could learn a few things from her.

"In 2011, I had strained my hamstring and my hip flexor, and when I went onto the competition floor, I fell seven times," she says. "It was so embarrassing and my mom told me that's a winner is when you fall and you get back up and you don't quit. I remember my coaches were like 'all right, when we get back to the gym, we're going to get it.' He made me sweat."

Gabby Douglas
Luisa Dörr for Time

That hard work and sweat really paid off, to say the least, and Douglas didn't even have to wait until the actual Olympics to see the drastic improvement that her newfound mentality reaped.

"2012 came around and I got invited to do the American Cup, and I remember I was a different person, I was a different gymnast, and everyone was like 'dang, who is this girl?' I remember everybody was talking about it," she says. "It was that drive, it was I'm not going to be embarrassed again, it was I have a talent and I'm going to use it."

As the first woman of color to win the individual all-around gold medal at the Olympics and the first American gymnast to win solo and team all-around gold medals at the same Olympics, we think it's safe to say that she sure used her talent wisely.

Watch the video above and check out more Firsts at

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Courtesy Time
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