As a former gymnast, I have been watching the Larry Nassar case unfold with interest. I post this after reading some of the comments asking why the 156+ victims didn’t come forward sooner.
Here’s what you have to understand; young elite gymnasts are not normal kids playing in the playground. A young elite gymnast (as young as 7 years old) is, in my eyes, already in full-time work and part-time education!
Growing up with the aim to one day be an Olympic champion, he/she will be told daily that to get there they will have to work harder than anyone else in the country – putting 30+ hours of training in per week.
In addition to the physical endurance, the coaches (who also want their golden ticket to The Games) may want to stir in some ‘healthy’ in-house rivalry with the aim to push everyone to work harder! It’s rare for a gymnast to argue back as this is all done with their ‘best interests’ in mind.
But not every aspiring pro gymnast is going to make it to the All-around final – and unlike other sports, like triathlon for example, gymnastics isn’t a career outside the Olympic programme. The reality is that out of the thousands of hopefuls, only 5 men and 4 women represented GB at the Rio Olympics. None of them were my team mates FYI 😳
Here is where a quote from the fabulous film Stick It comes in: “You’re selling a lot of tickets to the Olympics. Which country are they representing, the United Kingdom of Delusion?” 🤔
As the gymnast, you realise more and more as you get older that everyone in your club – and the clubs up and down the country – are being sold the same dream. Each training session turns into a competition to stand out from the crowd and impress who you need to impress to get reselected…
Young serious gymnasts will take all the help and advice they can grasp their hand guards around in order to stay gripped to their high-bar ambitions!
Doctors… they are there to heal – or should be at least – usually in moments where a career is at a crossroads. Athletes put their trust into the team’s doctor in order to recover swiftly and prove that they are not ‘damaged goods’.
In the case of Larry Nassar, he was the best of the best as far as any US gymnast was concerned. If you wanted your body to heal from an awkward injury, you came to him – the ‘God’ of gymnastics, as reported by BBC (full sarcasm intended).
So, please don’t question the victims who have been fuelled by ‘marginal gains’ bulls$£# throughout their childhood. Instead, question only the morals of the abuser who, in an episode of a gymnastics podcast, was quoted speaking about how important it was to look after young athletes.
“Not just physically but mentally, you have to protect your athletes,” he told GymCastic, speaking uncharacteristically slowly. “You have to let them know they will be cared [for].”
He also warned of the danger of mental injury to athletes, saying “the physical injuries almost always they can recover from. The mental injury leaves the scars that keep coming back and haunt them later.”
This man will now rot in a cell for the rest of his days – and rightfully so if you want my opinion.
The women who stood up to testify against this predator deserve nothing less than your full, undivided respect 👊💙