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Gabby Douglas vaults into history

U.S. gymnast Gabrielle Douglas waits for teammate AlexandrRaisman's score floor exercise during artistic gymnastics women's individual all-around competiti2012 Summer Olympics

U.S. gymnast Gabrielle Douglas waits for teammate Alexandra Raisman's score on the floor exercise during the artistic gymnastics women's individual all-around competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

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Updated: August 8, 2012 3:16PM

LONDON – Major corporations are about to come bearing contracts and make her very rich, but all Gabby Douglas really wanted to talk about Tuesday was her dogs.

That would be Zoe and Chandler, whom she hasn’t seen in almost two years.

“OK, so my dog when I walk in, he always like wags his tail and then he smiles,’’ she said. “So I’m looking forward to that.

“Chandler, he’s just like a little Mexican jumping bean. He like runs around the table. He’ll be so happy.’’

When your life already is a whirlwind, and your world is about to become even more chaotic, you look for comfort and stability. That’s what we have here. We have a 16-year-old girl who, with one magical night, has become a household name in the United States. And that name is not Gabby Douglas.

It’s just Gabby. The Douglas part now is as unnecessary as her appendix.

She struggled Tuesday in the balance-beam competition, slipping and hanging onto the apparatus for dear life. She finished seventh. No matter. She leaves here as the star, which goes with winning the overall title. She has a compelling story to go with it.

She’s the first African American to win gold in the all-around.

“It will have a huge impact,’’ said three-time Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes, who is black. “I’m getting women reaching out to me via e-mail, Twitter, leaving voice mails, on the street even here in London who are my age (35) that are mothers. They say, ‘We looked up to you when we were children, and now my daughters have Gabby Douglas to look up to.’’

After Douglas had won the overall title, a reporter asked her what it felt like to be the first African American to do so. Douglas said: “I kind of forgot about that. Man, that’s awesome.’’

Dawes said she understand Douglas’ moment of fuzziness.

“You don’t think about it,’’ she said. “You’re not thinking so much about the fact that you are representing your race because that adds a whole new element of pressure to the situation,’’ Dawes said. “… She knew there was possibility of her making history, but I think you don’t get it until you’re on top of that podium. She can experience back home the impact that she’ll make.’’

Although she was frustrated with her beam routine, Douglas said she’s happy to be going home with two golds, one for the team title.

“My life is going to change so much,’’ she said. “I kind of made the history books. I’m not going to go anywhere without anyone noticing me or wanting a picture or an autograph.’’

Is that good?

“It’s definitely a good feeling,’’ she said.

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