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.
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.”
— Gabby Douglas (@gabrielledoug) August 10, 2016
Despite her explanation, the criticisms continued to come.
There is NO excuse as to why you could not salute the flag of the country that gave you the opportunity to complete #Rio2016
— Angela (@Angipooh) August 10, 2016
Others jumped to her defense:
We ❤️ you & are so proud of you. No need to apologize for anything! Thank you for representing our country with excellence!!
— Dr. Camille W Alleyne (@camillelisa) August 10, 2016
You have more class in your little finger than most of your critics have in their whole body. YOU matter. Congrats!
— Coach Rose Smith (@RSMITH_CEO) August 10, 2016
do you have any words for these athletes Angela? pic.twitter.com/Vzg0vyNfy5
— ryan 007 (@writelikeryan) August 10, 2016
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.