The talented gymnasts are just over a month away from heading to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to represent the U.S. at the 2016 Olympics and they each opened up to the publication about their individual journeys. Reflecting on her first Olympics appearance at the age of 16 back in 2012 (which turned out to be a historic one), Gabby says the feeling of reaching one of her biggest life goals was a dream come true. Although she made history as the first American gymnast to win the individual all-around title and lead her team to a gold medal, while also becoming the first woman of color to do both, Gabby admits she wasn’t always so confident in her greatness. “It took a long time for me to see my own potential — a long time,” she told the publication. “Finally something clicked and I knew I could be one of the best. It was a game changer. Now I’m like, ‘I am going for this. I’m going for it all.’”
Gabby’s mother Natalie Hawkins also reflected on how seeing Serena Williams take pride in her body image helped Gabby overcome the negativity she was subjected to from the public following her win.
“Gabrielle saw the elegance with which Serena Williams handled all the negative criticism of her own body,” Natalie recalled. “It was liberating for my daughter to see that. She said, ‘I don’t have to apologize to anyone about my body. My body is beautiful.’”
For 19-year-old Simone, setting her sights on one day making it to the Olympics was not in the plans. “It’s never been a goal,” she says. “I take things one step at a time. If I thought of gymnastics as a job, it would put too much stress on me. At the end of the day, if I can say I had fun, it was a good day.” While she’s proud to look up to her fellow teammates, Simone also says realizing her own strengths played a big role in helping her take things to the next level. “To go out there and prove what I can do has taught me a lot about who I am. We can push ourselves further. We always have more to give.” As for her number one goal in Rio this August, Simone’s first priority is staying healthy and her second dream is to bring home a consecutive group gold for the United States. “The team comes first.”
You can check out Gabby and Simone’s full interviews and photos here.
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