As an Olympic champion, Gabby Douglas is anything but unpatriotic.

Still, the gymnast came under fire online for not placing her hand over her heart while standing on the podium as the Star-Spangled Banner played to honor the Final Five’s gold medals. (She later tweeted an apology, writing “I never meant any disrespect.”)

“I was very, very, very upset at the Twitterverse, or whatever you want to call them, but I was ticked, quite frankly,” Hoda Kotb told her Wednesday. “First of all, I know you, and I know your heart, and when anyone makes any criticism — the ridiculousness about, oh, Gabby’s hand’s not on her heart. I mean, you come from a military family. We know that. It’s ridiculous. But how, when there are weird criticisms coming from other places, that kind of bullying, how do you stay strong? Because a lot of kids would have been in the fetal position, I hate to say it. Not you.”

“It was kind of hard for me, and I did have those moments where I was just like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is like really tough!'” Douglas admitted. “And I was kind of caught off guard a little bit because it was like this that and the other. It was a lot. It was a lot to deal with, but you just have to rise above it, you know? And you can’t let it get you down, and you can’t really focus on the negativity, and you can’t listen to the lies. You have to surround yourself with good, positive influence.”

“Like you mom and your family,” Kotb added.

“Exactly, and they were just uplifting me and just encouraging me and filling me with such great and amazing energy,” Douglas said. “You just have to rejoice, because there’s so many things to rejoice about: I’m at the Olympics, grabbed another gold medal and just being on the team. There’s just so many positives.”

Hear Douglas talk more about Rio, dating and her future career path below — but first, watch her fan-girl over meeting Beyonce.

The Hoda Kotb Show airs Mondays and Wednesdays at 2 p.m. ET on SiriusXM TODAY Show Radio (Ch. 108).

For a free 30-day trial, check out http://www.siriusxm.com/freetrial/blog

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