Gabby Douglas made history in Rio, becoming one of the only two American gymnasts to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals. (Her Fierce Five and Final Five teammate Aly Raisman is the other.) Now that her unprecedented Olympic experience is over, the gymnast headed home on Saturday, as Douglas won't attend the closing ceremony in Rio on Sunday night.
Douglas began her historic Olympic career in London four years ago, where she won gold in the women's all-around event. That year, she and her Fierce Five teammates also won gold in the team all-around event. In Rio, Douglas and her Final Five teammates again won gold in the team all-around event. Although Douglas was the only member of the Final Five not to win an individual medal, she helped solidify the Americans' dominance in the team event and added to her historic collection of gold hardware.
Douglas' Olympic competitions in Rio ended last Sunday with the individual uneven bars final. On Saturday, she tweeted a photo of herself on what appeared to be a cozy airplane seat, heading home from Rio. Given that she's already left Brazil, it seems that Douglas will not attend Rio's closing ceremony, which will take place on Sunday night.
While Douglas settles back in at home, her teammate Simone Biles will play a leading role at the closing ceremony. Biles, who had an historic Olympic experience all her own in Rio, was selected as the U.S. flag bearer. She's the first American female gymnast to be chosen for the position.
During her time in Rio, Douglas faced more than her fair share of criticism, very little of which was related to her athletic performance. Viewers complained about her hair, her behavior, and how she observed the U.S. national anthem. (While standing atop the Olympic podium with her teammates, Douglas didn't place her hand over her chest as the national anthem played.) The criticism seemed to place a dark cloud over Douglas' impressive athleticism.
Haters looking for something else to complain about may try to point to Douglas' early departure from Rio. After all, the Final Five were one of Team USA's biggest highlights during the Games. As it turns out, though, it's fairly common for athletes to depart before the closing ceremony has happened — and Douglas isn't the only big name who will be absent. Michael Phelps has already returned to the U.S., as has Ryan Lochte.
With Rio in the rearview, it's unclear what's next for Douglas' gymnastics career. In the immediate future, the Final Five will set out on a tour of the U.S. from September to November to show off their impressive skills and sign autographs. Despite the criticism she's received, Douglas definitely has something to show off: the back-to-back gold medals that only she and Raisman have.