Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 8/3/12

What would you say if I told you that the best female gymnast in the world nearly quit the sport a few months ago? It would be hard to believe, right? But that’s actually what happened with Gabby Douglas.

Douglas, who won the gold medal in the women’s all-around gymnastics competition at the Olympics on Thursday, had some struggles before making the Olympic team.

The 16-year-old moved to Iowa when she was 14 to train with Liang Chow, the coach of former gold medalist Shawn Johnson. Douglas had many things on her mind, including issues unrelated to gymnastics.

“Just had bad days in the gym, thinking about my dad,” Douglas told NBC’s Rock Center last month.

Douglas’ father, Timothy Douglas, served six months in Afghanistan with the Air Force. He returned home and saw his daughter for the first time in nearly two years when he surprised her at the Olympic Trials in June.

She says she would worry about him frequently.

“I’m just like ‘Whoa, what if he doesn’t come back (from Iraq)?’ I was just horrified. I prayed every night,” said Douglas.

Douglas wasn’t a lock to make the Olympic team after struggling with the vault before the trials took place. She twisted her ankle on her dismount at the Pacific Rim Championships in March, and she skipped the event at the U.S. Classic in Chicago last month.

All those factors seemed to contribute to Douglas considering quitting.

“It was pretty drastic. She really, really sounded very serious about it,” said Douglas’ sister, Arielle Hawkins.

Thankfully for the US and gymnastics fans around the world she stuck with it and persevered. On Thursday, she became the first woman to win gold at the same Olympics in the individual all-around competition and team competition.

This article first appeared on Larry Brown Sports and was syndicated with permission.

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