It was a match that benefited all parties. Iowa found a new star, and she a new home.
“I couldn’t imagine (life at the gym) without her,” said friend and teammate, Sierra Hassel. “It felt like she was always here.”
Gabby Douglas realized her Olympic dream and Liang Chow proved he truly had the Midas touch.
The end of such relationship is hard to accept.
“I think it just makes everyone sad,” said another teammate, Haylee Young, “because we all loved her a lot.”
“Absolutely,” says Douglas’s host mom, Missy Parton. “It’s hard to see her go, but we knew it was coming at some point.”
Parton and her family opened their home to Douglas. She says helping her pack for California last week wasn’t easy.
“We’re in a position where we just have to sit back,” Parton said, “Her family needs to make decisions based on what they think is best for them and we support her in whatever she chooses to do.”
Her friends at the gym say the move doesn’t reflect poorly on Iowa.
“She’s moving on, but she had such a good time, here,” said Sierra Hassel, “and she reached her goals here.”
The parents who’ve lined up to send their kids to Chow don’t think this will hurt HIS appeal.
“I don’t think it will do anything,” Parton said. “He has a strong program, here.”
“I know that he has a couple all-stars—Nora and Alexis,” said parent, Vince Hassel, “they’ve come in from Wisconsin and California, and training with Chow and doing quite well.”
With or without Gabby Douglas, Liang Chow has what every other coach in the world would dream of: a resume boasting multiple Olympic medals in consecutive games, a full roster of up-and-coming stars here at the gym, and a virtual assurance that athletes from around the world will continue to want to train with him here in Iowa where he plans to stay.