In the News
We’re back. A lot has, and hasn’t, happened since we took a break at the end of 2019. First there were meets, then there was coronavirus, then there was nothing. But because everything is awful, the news is keeping us busy this week and we wanted to help you not miss anything.
Racism in NCAA. ESPN has published a lengthy article about the culture of racism in collegiate gymnastics, featuring Tia Kiaku’s experience at Alabama while amplifying the stories of several other Black gymnasts, including Kennedy Baker, who recently called out Rhonda Faehn and the University of Florida.
Texas Nightmares. Kennedy Baker also shared her story about experiencing racism and abusive behavior at her club gym, Texas Dreams. She followed in the footsteps of former teammate Ashton Kim, who inspired others to come forward, including Macy Toronjo and Peyton Oltman, a L10 gymnast who trained under Marcus Harlin and Alicia Goodwin. A couple of R(he)agans refuted these claims, and as a longtime supporter of the gym, I wrote some words about how I’m changing the way I think about so-called ‘good’ gyms.
Men, too. While most survivors of abusive gymnastics culture who come forward are women, many men and boys are also affected. British Olympic and world medalist Nile Wilson told the BBC Sport that “athletes are treated like pieces of meat” within British Gymnastics in a revelation that follows a number of British gymnasts speaking up about what they went through, leading to chief executive Jane Allen making the decision to step down from her role on the major events panel at UK Sport while an investigation is conducted.
Culture shock. Australia is also investigating abuse within the federation, but their review will focus on the culture of abuse itself, and not on individual claims. The Australian Human Rights Commission’s sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins will lead the review of Gymnastics Australia, while next door in New Zealand, the federation has also decided to outsource, redirecting all Safe Sport complaints to the Independent Complaints Mechanism to be handled by an employment law firm.
Give Raducan her medal back. A documentary that explores the IOC’s decision to strip Andreea Raducan of her all-around gold medal at the 2000 Olympic Games will get its digital release on September 1. Shot over 2015 and 2016, The Golden Girl hit the festival circuit last year with a strong reception. Details for how you can watch are here, and if you can’t wait, absolutely check out the trailer.
Side gigs. A gym fan recently found out that the PA who stitched her up after her C-section in May was none other than Houry Gebeshian, the 2016 Olympian who stole the show with her very public displays of affection for all four of the apparatuses as she ended her career with the performance of a lifetime in Rio (she also made history as the first female Olympic gymnast to represent Armenia and when she debuted a D-rated bars mount now named for her). While training for the Olympics, Houry split her time between the gym and the Cleveland Clinic, where she works for the department of surgery on the labor and delivery floor.
Chell yeah. Chellsie Memmel is truly spoiling us in the wake of her comeback announcement, regularly sharing her training updates on Twitter and YouTube, including one of her throwing an Amanar into the pit. If you want to support the 2008 Olympian and mom of two as she tackles elite gymnastics at 32, she’s also selling shirts to raise money for the journey. I need this to happen so badly, I’m just sending over full access to my bank account.
Ponor no more. Romanian legend Catalina Ponor announced that she will be tying the knot with Bogdan Jianu, a 50-year-old actor/director/horseman who makes historic epic films where he can tie together his three passions (acting, directing, and riding horses, apparently). The two have dated since 2018, but their relationship goes back 14 years, according to Catalina.
No coach necessary. When a fan asked world medalist Becky Downie who she’s training with now, she was like, “me.” According to Becky, she coaches herself using her iPad to refine skills and get them to look how she wants them to. “I can see and feel almost all my faults myself now, and know exactly when I need to push myself harder or back off.” Given all of the accusations against coaches recently, this is kind of the dream.
Turns out I LOVE the gym. BBC Sport Wales shared a feature on 2018 world championships alternate and Tokyo hopeful Emily Thomas, a British gymnast from Wales who “definitely won’t be taking training for granted ever again” after experiencing four months of having to work out at home during the COVID-19 lockdown. She told BBC Sport that she’s never taken anywhere near four months off before, and now never wants to take a break from the gym again.
Can you ever have too much flair? You’ve heard of flairs on beam and floor, but that wasn’t enough for Charlotte Pipe, who competed for Canada in the 80s. Charlotte casually also performed a flair on the low bar at the start of her UB routine, seamlessly swinging right back into a kip. Okay, but vault, though?
What, like the Olympics are hard? The latest in MyKayla Skinner‘s video series on her road to Tokyo shows her painful but essential process of going through physical therapy to keep her body in shape while training. My hips are so jealous of that deep tissue manipulation.
It was a (PIKED) Deltchev! Aleah Finnegan is back in the gym training a superb piked Deltchev, because she’s a queen, that’s why. No, it’s not a new element – Alexa Moreno currently does it in elite, where it’s rated an E – but it’s awesome and I approve.
United States of A-Moors-ica. Not only does Morgan Hurd have her Moors back (and not only did I steal that pun from her tweet), but Jordan Chiles also shared her recent attempt, which looks absolutely fab. And they say gymnasts can’t take time away from the gym.
The Thorpe. The boys have been busy in the gym, too, with Australia’s Heath Thorpe winning this week as he not only catches a layout Jaeger full to mixed grip, but then releases AGAIN into a piked Jaeger. I mean, I’m watching TV while working, so same thing really.
Britain’s Next Top Bar Worker. 15-year-old Annie Young, a two-time national all-around silver medalist as a junior, shows shades of being a future bars legend for the Brits in this floaty dream of a routine. Tyra could never.
Just Konnor things. Closing with Konnor McClain doing a flawless layout full series on beam because in these unprecedented times, Konnor’s layout fulls are the only thing I trust to unite us all as one.
Article by Lauren Hopkins