Olympic gold, Gary proud

Gabby Douglas' biggest cheers may have come from Northwest Indiana

August 1, 2012

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U.S. Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas who has ties to Northwest Indiana.

When 16-year-old Gabby Douglas helped the U.S. gymnastics women’s team capture their first gold medal since 1996 she became an instant celebrity. The team even got a call from President Barack Obama.

But the loudest cheers may have come from friends and family in Gary, Ind., where her mother, Natalie Hawkins, used to live and her grandfather, Theodore Hawkins, still does.

Gary resident Lisa Penn-Johnson says she spent much of Tuesday night chatting with Gabby’s mom on Facebook about Gabby’s impressive performance.

“I’m not surprised. She is phenomenal,” said Penn-Johnson, who attended Gary Roosevelt High School with Natalie Hawkins.

Penn-Johnson says watching Gabby win it all in London, was still a huge thrill.

“I was very ecstatic. I was actually at work when I was watching. I was screaming all throughout the office,” she said.

Gabby will compete again Thursday in the gymnastics individual All-Around title.