Gabby Douglas Criticized for Not Placing Hand Over Heart During Olympic Medal Ceremony

Gabby Douglas
AP/Julio Cortez

It was one of the proudest moments of Gabby Douglas’ life — and one she was shamed on social media for.

On Tuesday night, the gymnast and her four Team USA teammates — Simone Biles, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian and Aly Raisman — won gold in the women’s team all around event.

It was the second gold for Douglas in that event; she led the squad to victory in 2012. She was also the individual all-around champion from the London Games.


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But as Douglas took her third Olympic podium, she didn’t something her teammates did. She didn’t place her hand over her heart as the national anthem played. Critics took to Twitter, calling her move “disrespectful” and “unpatriotic.”

The gymnast took to Twitter to explain. “In response to a few tweets I saw tonight, I always stand at attention out of respect for our country whenever the national anthem is played,” Douglas wrote. “I never meant any disrespect and apologize if I offended anyone,” she added. I’m so overwhelmed at what our team accomplished today and overjoyed that we were able to bring home another gold for our country.”

Despite her explanation, the criticisms continued to come.

Others jumped to her defense:

For the record, Douglas DID put her hand on her heart during the medal ceremony at the 2012 Games.

This isn’t the only controversy that the women’s gymnastics team has faced at the Rio Games. Earlier this week, NBC announcer Al Trautwig was called out for comments he made about Simone Biles’ family. He was also critiqued for confusing Douglas and Biles during his on-air commentary; both gymnasts are African American.

Douglas will compete in the individual uneven bars final later in these Games.

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  1. Troy Rodarmel says:

    At least she didn’t put her left hand over her right breast like the Obama’s did! Goodness! Not to mention Obama banning the Pledge. What’s next?

  2. Sally A says:

    Last time I checked – hand over the heart is for the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE. It’s not for the national anthem. Many athletes do the same. This is totally ridiculous. Someone educated in this country should have schooled these twitter trolls early on.

  3. Hal says:

    Just saw the medal awards for the Shot Put. Neither of the Americans who took Gold and Silver placed their hands over their hearts during the playing of our National Anthem. So where are the comments here? So quick to criticize Gabby, so now let’s hear about these 2 (white) guys. Wonder how many other gold medal winners don’t do hand over heart?

  4. Faye says:

    She indeed appeared to be disrespectful…but I noticed throughout the ceremonies, even though she was performing well, that she had a sad, disinterested look on her face. None of us know what she may have been dealing with. Let’s give her a break.

  5. chad says:

    People are fucking crazy. I grew up playing sports from the time I was five through high school and into college. Stood at attention for countless renditions of our national anthem. I could also probably count the number of times I actually placed my hand on my heart during the playing of the anthem. Almost always stood with hands clasped in front or behind my back. This is just stupid.

  6. Gabby, I am very proud of you. Don’t let this little thing get to you. You will have plenty of time in your young life to make up for that small error. Thanks for all your hard work.

  7. Gabby offered an excuse but there is no excuse for that unpatriotic scene.

  8. C.j. Michael says:

    Yeah…Douglas was “overwhelmed”…Probably still can NOT believe she made it to Rio after finishing 7th place at the trails….She has issues with white America we have heard and looked militant during the games towards her team mates. She is not a role model. So obvious an sad.

  9. Tee says:

    Everybody is so busy busting her chops because of her bad hair, but not for disrespecting the very flag of her country. Honey if you ain’t happy carry your “bad hair” to another country.

  10. Jose medina says:

    All the flag burning libs coming to stick up for her. I liked her until that. in 2012 SHE KNEW AND PUT HAND OVER HER HEART. IT WAS A HATEFUL POLITICAL STATEMENT. STAY IN RIO GABBY!!!

    • Rex says:

      Conservatards like you won’t be happy until the athletes’ other hands are firing guns into the air in celebration. YOU’RE the ones who are ruining the country.

  11. Lynn says:

    While watching the medal ceremony I was shocked at her apparent contempt for something or someone. Obviously, she’s not adult enough to deal with it on an appropriate stage at an appropriate time, She decided it was important to take that moment, that one special moment in time for so many people, to stage her little selfish protest at the expense of her coaches, supporters, teammate, family, and country. .She thinks she made a point, but she made an impression… at least upon me.. Her facial expressions and body gestures showed the real “Gabby. Frankly, I was embarrassed for her.. She may be a very gifted athete, however she is an awful example of a teammate and proud American. So Miss Stand at Attention, make excuses all you want but you really need to check your attitude and come clean about the real reason you acted out. It was shameful.

  12. Mynchkin says:

    GIVE IT A REST PEOPLE! If you complain about Gabby not putting her hand over her heart then why not complain about the look on Simone Biles face. Ask yourself this question: Do I put my hand over my heart when the national anthem is played? I myself stand and pay attention to what the anthem means but my hand is not over my heart. Find something else more meaningful to complain about!

  13. All these trolls going after Gabby Douglas are just that, trolls. This young woman would intentionally or otherwise show disrespect for her country. She is smart enough to know that the Olympics are not a place for a phony, vile organization like blm.

  14. your mom says:

    Here come the PC police.

  15. Irises says:

    I too was taught to stand at attention during the National Anthem and to place my right hand over my heart during the Pledge of Allegiance. I am from Ohio. I think this changed in 1998.

  16. Leslie Brosh says:

    At least she wasn’t laughing like Micheal Phelps did when he recieved a gold medal.

  17. Apparently, the only “patriotic” thing some people can manage in a given day is taking to social media and slamming someone who is actually representing her country. Try actually doing something for your community and the rest of America, you losers. We’d all be ever-so-much-more impressed.

  18. Tomas Agusto Vergara says:

    Thank god, she is covered by her first amendment rights!

  19. IMAOwutsURS says:

    I find it interesting that in one article it is okay for Michael Phelps to break into laughter during the Stars Spangled Banner because when the song gets to the “Oh,” his teammates sing it for Orioles. Everyone thinks this is charming. Yet, Gabrielle forgets to put her hand over her heart, and she is shamed. Nice.

    • Becky Wall says:

      Absolutely agree! Several athletes don’t place their hands over their hearts. People need to BACK-OFF!!! She IS patriotic as she is representing the US in a fantastic way – as are all of our athletes. Find something else to complain about that is worth complaining about.

  20. Social media is for cowards. Criticize Michael Phelps for not putting his hand on his heart last night and tell him to leave the country…see how far that gets you!

  21. Steve Hopkinson says:

    “But as Douglas took her third Olympic podium, she didn’t something her teammates did.” She didn’t WHAT? Do something? Like use a copy-editor?

  22. tony says:

    These keyboard warriors should lift something. Their fat f*ckin asses off their seats and try to achieve a modicum of what she’s achieved.

    Twitter gives these cancerous people – they are a cancer in society – a voice and for that I hate it.

    It’s a shame they then are given more publicity.

    If just they could devote energy to proper topics. But of course they are empty husks of people with no purpose and that’s why they are angry at successful people.

  23. Chicbee says:

    Thank you Gabby for what you and your teammates did for our country. Your skills and achievements are second to none. It’s a thrill to watch you! I am grateful for you, for your accomplishments, and for your love of our wonderful USA. I know that, when overwhelmed by emotion, it is easy to forget a simple gesture. I would have too. Don’t listen to unimportant naysayers. We Love YOU!!!

  24. Will says:

    Variety is now a Twitter aggregator. Why should people pay $199+ for this?

  25. Arnie Tracey says:

    Those critics are mental.

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