(Photo: Flickr/David Jones)
Gymnast, Olympic gold medalist, and devout Christian, Gabby Douglas has parted ways with her longtime coach, Liang Chow.
Douglas, since winning Gold at the Olympics last year, moved to Los Angeles with her family and seemingly embraced her newfound celebrity status, appearing at various award shows, releasing a memoir God, Grace and Glory and landing multiple endorsement deals.
Douglas had returned to the Iowa-based Chow's Gymnastic and Dance Institute in May to resume training and surprised her coach by abruptly announcing her departure.
"She came over (Monday) and said goodbye to us," Liwen Zhuang, Chow's wife, told USA Today. "I didn't ask her (the reasons). I did talk to her. She was a little upset. I guess that's a family decision for her."
"We were not really sure for a long time, because we heard from other people first. Nothing was really confirmed. We didn't really know for sure. We heard some rumors. It's kind of awkward," she said.
"I think maybe they like to be in a warm place after she became a celebrity or something," added Liwen, laughing.
Douglas had previously said that she wanted to compete in the Rio Olympics in 2016.
"I definitely want to do it again," Douglas said when she first returned to the gym. "I love competing. It's going to take much more hard work. It's going to be different than 2012 because everyone knows me now and has expectations."
Missy Parton, whose family hosted Douglas during her years in Des Moines, declined to comment on the rationale behind her decision, but said she would miss the gymnast, telling USA Today, "It's hard to see her go, but we knew at some point, she wasn't going to stay here forever."
In 2010, at the age of 14, Douglas moved from her home in Virginia to train with Chow in West Des Moines. It was under Chow that Douglas qualified for the Olympics, turned heads when she placed first at qualifers, and surprised the world when she won the all-around title.