'Fierce Five' a tour de force

Posted: August 09, 2012

THEY CAME to London as gymnasts. They're leaving as rock stars.

On Wednesday, Gabby Douglas, Jordan Wieber, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Kyla Ross — aka the Fierce Five — got a glimpse of their futures.

Kellogg's gave them a sneak peak of the Corn Flakes box that will sport their images. Procter & Gamble created an ad congratulating them. And, they discussed their 40-city gymnastics tour, which visits Philly's Wells Fargo Center on Nov. 9.

Life is good for the girls who combined to win five medals, including three golds. And, they are just beginning to realize what an impact their success will have on them.

"It's definitely going to be different," Wieber said. "At the same time, it's the coolest thing in the world. To be 17 years old and be able to experience all this? A lot of girls would kill to be in our spots."

The 17-year-old Douglas, the first African-American to win the all-around title, is keenly aware that she is a role model. And she embraces it.

"There's not a lot of African-Americans in this sport, so I'm glad to bring it up," Douglas said. "I want them to think, ‘If Gabby can do it, I can do it, too.'"

Strikingly proud

Former major league pitcher Frank Viola has a history of being calm during nail-biting moments. But then, you'd expect that from a guy who is a Cy Young Award winner, three-time All-Star, and World Series MVP.

But the lefthander, now a pitching coach with the Savannah Sand Gnats — the Mets Class A affiliate — had a stomach full of butterflies while watching his daughter Brittany compete in 10-meter platform diving event on Wednesday.

Frank told the Associated Press he was "a nervous wreck" before the competition in which Brittany advance to the semifinals.

"It's a lot easier going out for Game 7 knowing you have the ball in your hand and you're in control," he said. "In the stands, you're a parent and have no control."

Viola, who was given 6 days off to attend the Game with his family, said his daughter doesn't get her diving talent from him.

"I go up 10 feet to put on Christmas lights and I'm ready to pass out," he said.   

Contact Tom Mahon at mahont@phillynews.com

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