VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - A giant mural will welcome local Olympian Gabby Douglas back to her hometown of Virginia Beach.
Two local artists painted the 30 x 9 foot mural on an exterior wall of A.J. Gators Sports Grille and Bar, located at 3908 Holland Road.
Gabby tweeted Friday to say she had seen a picture of the mural. She wrote "Wow!!! This is amazing!! #sohonored."
It took brothers Todd and Eric Lindbergh, of T.A.L.ENT Murals , four days to complete the project. They put the finishing touches on it Thursday. They say their inspiration came from watching Gabby on television.
"We saw on the bottom of the screen that Gabby Douglas was from Virginia Beach," said Todd Lindbergh. "And we said 'How cool is that! We should do something for Gabby.'"
The original plan was to paint the words 'Go Gabby' somewhere in city, but the Lindberghs couldn't find any takers, until Gabby won two gold medals. That's when they approached A.J. Gators.
"I met with Al at 11 o'clock in the morning, and at 11:07 I was walking out and he was going 'Yes! Definitely let's do it,'" said Lindbergh.
They painted the flag first and left passersby guessing.
"At first everyone thought we were painting Obama," said Lindbergh. "We said 'No, just wait, just wait.' But late Tuesday, people started saying 'Oh, it's Gabby! That's cool!'"
Word spread quickly and soon Gabby's fans went to Holland Road to see for themselves. of someone else taking picture of someone posing in front of mural
"Brave and beautiful and sincere and sweet," said one gawker.
"I am so proud," said another, lifting his arms in the air. "Wow! So proud."
After all, it was pride that inspired the artists, that helped them pick which moment to paint, Gabby wearing her first medal.
"That's the moment, what I remember the most," said Lindbergh. "And that's what I had in my mind when she won that medal, just how happy she looked and how proud we were."
What Todd Lindbergh didn't expect was the joy it would bring him, as well.
"When you paint something and see people like it, it's the best feeling in the world," said Lindbergh. "It's like winning a gold medal."
The Lindbergh brothers were compensated for the painting. But, that's not all. Gabby's family has contacted them about having dinner together when she gets home.
This is the first celebrity mural the Lindbergh's have painted. They also painted a mural of a young boy holding a paper airplane near the site of April's jet crash off Birdneck Road in Virginia Beach.
Douglas won two gold medals in gymnastics during the 2012 Olympics in London, including the all-around. Douglas grew up and trained in Virginia Beach before moving to Iowa for two years to continue her training.
In an interview with NBC's Al Michaels Friday, Douglas announced she would be returning to her hometown before traveling back to Iowa. No details about the visit have been released. WAVY.com will post updates.
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