Gabby Douglas is making the national rounds with the rest of the Fierce Five on the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions. (McKayla Maroney did a local meet-and-greet on Wednesday night.) Douglas took a break from a jam-packed practice and promotional schedule to talk about her post-Olympic life. She also shares her thoughts on meeting Nicki Minaj, hanging out in Olympic Village and seeing people dress like her for Halloween.
Do you still get nervous on the tour or is it nothing compared to the Olympics?
You don’t get nervous because the tour is just really fun. It’s different from a gymnastics competition because there’s no judges, no one to give you scores. You just get out there to have fun.
Do you get any breaks at all?
Some weeks it’s just been non-stop. It’s part of the journey. I just have to learn how to enjoy it because it’s all going to go by so fast … There were a couple weeks when I got to just chill with my family and hang out.
You’ve talked about how you would get homesick for Virginia Beach when you were living and training in Iowa. Do you still have those feelings when you’re on the road?
Now, it’s not as big of a deal. It doesn’t really faze me, because I’ve traveled so many different places without my mom. And I still have my second family in Iowa.
What’s it been like to meet your fans?
I can’t go anywhere without anyone recognizing me and saying, “That’s Gabby Douglas!” [On tour], we get to interact with the crowd so much. We get to high-five them and give them hugs. I think it’s pretty cool for them, too. It makes their day.
How do you feel about people dressing up like you for Halloween?
People dressing up like me or the Fierce Five, it is wonderful. The best costumes ever. Who would have thought? Everyone was tweeting me all these pictures. It was just very cool.
Who are your favorite people that you’ve met so far?
Nicki Minaj, Alicia Keys and Katy Perry. It was just a lot of fun…They’re down to earth, they’re just so sweet and so nice.
What’s next for you when the tour is over?
I’m just going to start getting back into the swing of things and train for 2016 and hope to make the team again. Everyone still has to make the team again.
You don’t have any kind of edge coming in as the returning champion?
There’s not an advantage. It wouldn’t be fair … The hardest part is to make the team. You think about going to the Olympics and all that, but the first thing you have to do is make the team.
What’s your relationship like with the rest of the Fierce Five?
We’re all like sisters. We have to compete against each other, but we’re also competing for Team USA and our coaches and our gym, so we still want each other [to] do the best we can.
What do you all like to do when you’re not training?
We all just love hanging out. Going to the mall. Going shopping. Relaxing in each other’s rooms. Going out to eat and watching TV with each other. We’re all normal 16 year olds…[ but] no dating. No time for boys just yet because everything is so crazy.
What was Olympic Village like?
We got to meet the swimmers, the volleyball players, tennis. We kind of met everyone. We got to see how they do their sport, this story, their background…They knew that we were the gymnasts because we were the shortest people there.
Did anything about the Olympic experience surprise you?
I was prepared for anything. And you have to be prepared for anything. You can’t let your mind wander off… You have to have a backup plan, if this thing goes wrong, you have this, this, and that.
You say it’s harder to make the team than to medal. How will qualifying for Rio be different from London?
Well, of course I’m going to have a little bit of more confidence knowing: if I make the team, I’ve been to the Olympics. I know what it’s like. I can do this. One thing I’m going to do is not walk in there and say, “I got this already because I did it four years ago.’ That’s not the mindset I want to carry on because anything can happen. I’m just going to go in there and have the best time of my life, and show everyone what I can do.