Barbara Walters' 10 Most Fascinating People: Gabby Douglas

ABC's Barbara Walters interviews Olympic Gymnast Gabby Douglas
5:21 | 12/12/12

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Transcript for Barbara Walters' 10 Most Fascinating People: Gabby Douglas
Victory is Yours. I'm not sure why we are drawn to female ice skaters during the winter olympics and female gymnasts during the summer. We've certainly profiled our share of them on this show over the past 19 years. But I don't recall quite like... Or a story quite like hers. The tiny, tiny girlwith the big, big smile. ♪ (man) IT COULDN'TBE MORE DRAMATIC-- The women's all-around comesdown to one last routine. And it's a gabby gold! (Barbara) WHEN 16-YEAR-OLDGABBY DOUGLAS Became the first woman of colorto win the women's individual all-around gold medalat the olympics, she surprised everyone. ♪ few in the sport thought gabby had what it took to bea champion. In fact, early this year,gabby herself thought aboutquitting gymnastics entirely and just gettinga fast food job. (woman) THIS SHOULA BIG VAULT FOR GABBY. (man) THIS COULD HAVE BEENREALLY BAD. YIKES. Reallybad. Just monthsbefore the olympics, she had trouble with her vault. She lost focus under pressure and seemed jitteryon the beam. Competing through the painof an injury then, little gabby didn't seemlike a girl who would lead her teamto a gold medal. We all know you as "gabby."What's your full name? My full name is gabrielle christina victoria douglas. THAT'S A BIG NAME FOR A LITTLE GIRL. (giggles) It's powerful. ♪ she grew up in a virginia suburb with her two sisters and brother, raised by her mother, a single parent. She was 4 when she saw her older sister arielle doing gymnastics. She was doing cartwheels and splits oe floor, so I wanted to learn that, and she taught me, and by the end of the week, I was doing one-arm cartwheels over splits on the couches. And my sisteid, "mom, you need to put her in." ♪ at 6, she started at a local gym. She was a prodigy. By 8, she was winning state championships. (man, amplified voice) FIRST PLACE Goes to gabrielle douglas. Gabby was homeschooled so she could train more-- nearly 40 hours a week, but gymnastics are expensive. The family went on food stamps for a while, and eventually, her mother declared bankruptcy. How bad did it get? Well, it kinda got pretty bad, but she didn't let me ow everything because she wanted me to focus on my training, and she wanted to... She wanted to protect me. You are very close to your mother, but your father left the family when you were very young. Yes. Do you know why? No. Do you have a relationship with your father today? Uh, I think it's, uh, pretty distant. He kind of came back into your life when you became a winner, didn't you? YEAH. (laughs) Do you resent that? It's just... I SAY IT'S JUST A LITTLE LATE. (giggles) (cheering) It was the 2008 games thatsparked her olympic ambitions. (man) A PHENOMENAL ROUTINE! Watching gymnast shawn johnson,11-year-old gabby decided she could be just as goodif she had shawn's coach-- liang chow. But he was 1,200 miles away in iowa, so gabby asked her mother natalie for permission to leave home. She said, "i need to move away," and I said, "that's just not going to happen." What changed your mind? Well, when she turned 14, I knew that if she wanted to pursue her dream, that she would have to pursue another coach. ♪ gabby went to live in iowa with a host family, the partons, who welcomed her with open arms. The family that took her in-- they're amazing. But it was so hard, because I felt like i was missing out on her growing up. Yeah. (man) AND IT'S A GABBY GOLD! (cheers and applause) Tell me how you feel nowthat this child has won. I'm elated, because all of the hard work, all of the sacrifice paid off. It was so worth it in the end. I couldn't see it then. And I couldn't see it when I was making the decision to leave her in iowa, but now...When she wonthat gold medal, and I was in the stands,and I was crying, and my son was holding me, I just kept saying,oh, my god. It was all worth it. (cheering continues) Gabby, tell me where you seeyourself in five years. Whew. Well, in four years, I hope to see myself do another olympics. Okay. And in five years, uh... I don't think my brain can think that far ahead. Finish the sentence for me, okay? Okay. Gabby douglas is... Awesome? THAT'LL DO IT. (giggles) "Awesome" is right. Gabby now makes millions in endorsements, wants to pursue an acting career, and has just released her memoir-- volume one, I'm guessing.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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