(CBS News) VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - 16-year-old Gabby Douglas is the breakout star of the London Olympics. She made history when she struck gold in gymnastics, and her smile lit up the arena.
Excalibur Gymnastics -- in her hometown of Virginia Beach, Va. -- the place where Gabby Douglas' Olympic hopes first took off.
Her talent was obvious to Coach Dena Walker. She began coaching Douglas at eight years old.
"(Gabby had) just incredible flexibility, really spunky, very quick, good power, strong. All the attributes you would need to be an Olympic champion," Walker told CBS News.
Two years ago, at age 14, Douglas moved 1,200 miles and a world away, to Iowa, to train with a new coach who'd trained other Olympians. She saw her mother just four times in two years.
But last night, her mother was there as she vaulted into Olympic history. Douglas is the first African American and only the fourth American woman to win the all around individual gymnastics gold medal. Mary Lou Retton was the first.
"She has inspired a whole generation of young African Americans to say, 'You know what I can do this too,'" Retton said. "I mean, I get goosebumps when I say it. 'I can do and be just like Gabby Douglas and do what she did, the world is at my doorstep.'"
At Douglas' old gym, 9-year-old Micah Swaby -- who trains about 5 hours a day, 5 days a week -- now dreams of her own Olympic moment.
"It's very inspiring and it makes me want to push myself harder," she said.
The young gymnasts watched together Thursday as Douglas gave her gold-medal performance.
"It's weird seeing her as an Olympian and that's what people know her as -- because I still see her as just Gabby, my friend," teammate Chase Walker said.
Her friend is now an Olympic champion.
"It means so much, all the hard work and dedication and effort put in the gym and hard days," Douglas explained. "And hard days are the best because that's where champions are made, so if you push through the hard days you can get through anything."
The discipline, drive and talent that first blossomed at Excalibur Gymnastics is now in full bloom.