I mean, how many of us can honestly say that, until now, we had the utmost confidence in the adults at the top of U.S. gymnastics? I keep thinking of the moment in 1996, when coach Bela Karolyi urged Olympian Kerri Strug to ignore her injured ankle long enough to execute a final vault for the team gold medal. As the bearish coach carried the tiny heroine to the medal stand, I was as appalled by him as I was inspired by her.
.. Having witnessed the casual way in which Strug’s caretakers sent the injured teen to stick another landing — a feat of tremendous skill and beauty that ends with roughly the same violent impact as being thrown from the roof of a garage — the whole world was on notice. Certain values guided the thinking of these people, and safety of the athletes was not high among them... Scott Reid of the Orange County Register let us know that gymnasts training for Team USA were subjected to near-starvation diets — 900 calories per day to fuel a world-class athlete. The purpose of this, as a study in the International Journal of Sports Medicine made clear in 2000, was to delay the onset of puberty.. “In female gymnasts the onset of menarche can be influenced by keeping the amount of fat mass low.”.. Nassar groomed his victims by smuggling food to them. Or that the adults in his skeevy orbit cared more about whether his “patients” won medals than whether the doctor was assaulting them... Most elite athletes also cultivate self-discipline, ambition, self-sacrifice and endurance: admirable qualities, but ones that make young athletes highly vulnerable to exploitive coaches, trainers.. Ours is not the first civilization to condone the torture of talented children because they delight us. For centuries, certain choirboys were castrated to preserve their sweet, high voices. As recently as the 1800s, “castrati” were among the most popular singers in Europe.Think of that during the next Olympics as you ask yourself whether our gymnasts are being fed. If the answer is no, change the channel.