Young gymnasts at the University of Utah….gratefully have been safe and sound.
But the recent riveting Senate testimony of courageous Olympic gymnasts about their horrifying sexual abuse by a “doctor” entrusted with their care, sent a sickening reminder on Capitol Hill: Hundreds of our competitive youth and elite athletes have been left unbelievably vulnerable.
You’ll remember that Simone Biles suddenly pulled out of the prestige events of the 2021 U.S. Olympic gymnastics competition, claiming her “head” was not in the right place. At the time, many judged her harshly. After all, “it would be costly for the Team….”
In front of a panel of U.S. Senators, Biles set the record straight about her mental break In Tokyo.Simone explained that due to the sexual abuse she had endured from vicious Olympic “doctor” Larry Nassar, she struggled just to be able to TRAIN for the 2021 Olympics.Biles had to walk daily in the same corridors where her abuse had occurred.In addition, due to Covid she was forced to travel abroad alone, without the much-needed support of her family.
For an Americangymnast with such heavy expectations on her young shoulders, the Tokyo Summer Olympics became a bridge too far. It wasn’t a sudden burst of“attitude”from an overpaid athlete which got in the way. It was the agony of mental and emotional insecurity that held her back. Simone Biles knew it was too risky for her to try to fly courageously through the air to the world’ssatisfaction, when she did not feel right.
Vigilance is the watchword now for how educators, coaches and other professionals must supervise all college sport venues and Olympic centers. But we should be equally hawk-eyed in the dressing rooms and private gatherings of our high school athletes, junior highs, and even neighborhood corner gyms filled with ambitious kids.No child or teen or young adult, should ever live through what Simon Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols have described. And SHAME ON THE FBI. What a disgrace.
When you think back upon the moment when Simone Biles fought her way back to the Olympic stage in 2021, and won a bronze medal, remember how courageous that moment was.
Among all of her global and national titles and medals, that 2021 Bronze Medal will always be….priceless. Listen to Simone Biles speak for herself: