This year's diverse Olympics gymnastics team is inspiring young girls

When N’dey Lowe watched Gabby Douglas win gold in London’s 2012 Olympics, she decided she wanted to do gymnastics, too. Fast forward to now, and Lowe, 11, is doing floor and bar routines at a gymnastics program in Harlem.

“I wanted to be like Gabby Douglas,” said N’dey, who is from the Bronx. “She was so confident, like when she won the Olympics… I’m excited to learn how to do more advanced stuff, like backhand stuff on the beams.”

In 2012, Douglas made history as the first African-American gymnast in the world to win gold in the Olympics all-around event, in a sport that lacks diversity in the U.S., despite other standout gymnasts including Dominique Dawes, Betty Okino and Annia Hatch.

That’s why this year’s U.S. women’s gymnastics team is special. The team competing at the Rio Olympics—including two African Americans and one Latina gymnast—is especially diverse, offering inspiration to girls like N’dey who can watch young women who look like them competing for Team USA.

“When you see people like Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles, you know it’s not a one-time thing,” said Wendy Hilliard, a former gymnast who started the nonprofit gymnastics organization Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation where N’dey takes classes. “Gabby didn’t come from the traditional two-parent family that a lot of people come from. She gave a lot of hope. On top of that, Simone is an incredible athlete. Anyone will tell you she’s kind of special.”

Read the full article in Motto.