GARY, Ind. (CBS) – Cheering newly minted gold medalist Gabby Douglas from Northwest Indiana this week are her grandparents, Nadean and Theodore Hawkins of Gary, who couldn’t be more proud.
“We really haven’t had a chance to come down to earth yet because it’s oh so surreal,” Nadean tells CBS 2’s Brad Edwards. “The media hasn’t given us any time.”
“It doesn’t seem like it’s real, but I know now it’s for real,” says Theodore, a Vietnam veteran. “My grandbaby, she really amazed me.”
Gabby, 16, amazed the world, too, by winning the individual all-around competition Thursday. The teen becomes the first African American woman to earn that distinction.
She has two gold medals to date from the London Games.
The couple worked for a combined 60 years in the steel mills and raised Gabby’s mom in Gary. The Hawkinses say they couldn’t afford to go to London but helped Gabby and her mother and siblings pay for travel arrangements. The grandparents watched the history-making competition from their home turf this week.
They say Gabby’s star-making performance is the result of the teen’s hard work and confidence. They dismiss the snarky Internet chatter from some quarters about the gymnast’s ponytailed, less-than-perfect hair for her big moment.
“That’s the media. As long as she’s confident in who she is I think it’s OK. She will be able to buy a new head of hair if she likes,” Nadean Hawkins says.