A couple of days ago, U.S. women’s gymnastics Olympic gold-medalist Gabby Douglas made headlines when she talked to Oprah about being viciously bullied at her old gym. She maintained that, while she was training at Virginia Beach’s Excalibur Gymnastics, she was picked on, once called a slave, and often made to feel isolated from her teammates. Douglas cited that as the main motivation for her move to Iowa to train with Shawn Johnson’s Olympic coach.
Well, on Tuesday, the people on the wrong side of those accusations decided to speak out.
Randy Stageburg, who used to train at the same gym, had this to say:
This is absolutely ridiculous. I trained at Excalibur gymnastics for 8 years and I personally trained with gabby for 2 of those years. The accusations that are being made against the gymnasts and coaches are just sickening. I watched dena and Gustavo put so much of their time and effort into gabby and the other athletes, no matter their race. Gabby was never a victim, in fact many would say she was one of the favorites. I am not saying that she never felt bullied because when you are in a sport with a bunch of girls it is bond to happen.
"However, anything that she may have felt was never about race and I can assure you everyone at some point has felt bullied. I never once heard her complain about girls being mean, funny how it is just now coming up. Also, not only does she owe the gym thousands of dollars but she owes dena thousands as well. I watched dena open her home to gabby, feeding her, taking her to gym, and allowing her to stay over her house whenever gabby wanted to.
The gym’s CEO, Gustavo Maure, said this to E!:
"Is Gabrielle a credible person just because she is an Olympic Champion? She is not giving any names or dates, leading us to believe that the accusation is fake," Maure seethed. "This wouldn't be the first time that the media has made up a story. Thousands of gymnasts and families have supported our good conduct and our professionalism during the last 30 years."
Who’s telling the truth here? It’s impossible to know. That said, it’s kind of hard to imagine that the folks training and/or working at the gym keep up with every little thing that’s said or done there. Someone easily could have mocked or taunted Douglas without them ever knowing. How can they so vehemently deny accusations that, really, weren’t even made against them?
It’s probably a safe bet that this story isn’t going to go away any time soon.