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EXCLUSIVE: Gabby Douglas gives advice for first-time Winter Olympians

Gabby Douglas took home the gold at the 2012 summer games, and is already preparing for 2016. But in between, she is focusing on charity, her fans and being a normal teenage girl.

Gabrielle Douglas became America’s sweetheart after the 2012 Olympics, and is using that fame to inspire and help others. She sat down with SheKnows to talk about life since the Olympics, and preparing for the 2016 games.

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Douglas has been working for a charity called Right to Play, a group whose mission is “to use sport and play to educate and empower children and youth to overcome the effects of poverty, conflict and disease in disadvantaged communities.”

“I am a Right to Play ambassador athlete,” she explained. “It is really awesome to be a part of this amazing charity. What Right to Play is doing is giving these kids an opportunity so they can have a Right to Play is amazing.”

Beyond that charity, Douglas knows she serves as a role model for people all around the world. She was one of Barbara Walters’ most fascinating people in 2012, and has nearly 800,000 followers on Twitter. She said she couldn’t ask for better fans.

“I would describe my fans as always supportive, loving and awesome,” she said.

Douglas was mostly unknown before the 2012 London games, but since then has become a worldwide star. She took home the gold medal at those Olympics, and said the Olympics were “everything and more” of what she expected.

“I dreamed about going to the Olympics, but never really knew what it would be like,” she explained. “But the Olympics were amazing, I had so much fun with my teammates, I had a fabulous time.”

Douglas plans to watch the 2014 Winter Games, and said she is most looking forward to snowboarding and figure skating. And as for the first time athletes there, the 17-year-old said she hopes they will “go out there, have fun and enjoy the whole Olympic experience. Go out there and do your best. Don’t worry about the scores, just do what you do at practice.”

Douglas admitted she took about nine months off after London, but is now back in the gym training, and hoping to begin competing again by 2014. In the meantime, she is doing what she can to inspire. She is currently working with Capri Sun to inspire young athletes, alongside others like John Cena, David Ortiz and Stephen Curry.

The company is offering kids a chance to compete against one of the athletes in the “Kids vs. Pros Playground Throwdown” in 2014.

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Douglas said she may want to get into acting after her Olympic run is over — she has already guest starred on numerous shows — but she would most like to be remembered as a role model.

“I love to use this platform where I get to inspire other girls, or whoever it may be,” Douglas explained, “and share the message that things may be challenging in life, but you always push and never give up.”

Watch Gabby Douglas’ Capri Sun ad:

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