Maggie Nichols was set to turn out to be an Olympic gymnast.
She gave up a traditional life at a younger age to competitively pursue gymnastics and caught the eye of coaches on account of her dedication and talent. She even made it to the Olympic Trials in 2016, however regardless of ending sixth all-around, she did not make the five-member Olympic workforce and wasn’t chosen as one among three alternates.
Whereas it’s potential that this was as a result of she didn’t rating within the high three in any single occasion, Netflix’s Athlete A encourages viewers to query whether or not this was the true cause Nichols did not make the workforce. In any case, the stress between USA Gymnastics and her household did not start on the Olympic Trials. Moderately, it began months earlier than, after she first reported sexual abuse from Dr. Larry Nassar to her coach Sarah Jantzi.
Athlete A, from Audrie & Daisy administrators Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, dives into how USAG failed to guard Nichols and numerous others from the abuses of Nassar, who in the end pleaded responsible to seven counts of sexual assault of minors. Although Nichols’ expertise is on the heart of the brand new Netflix documentary, she just isn’t the one gymnast whose mistreatment is explored. Former gymnasts Rachael Denhollander, Jessica Howard, and Jamie Dantzscher share their very own tales of abuse from Nassar. Tagically, they characterize solely a fraction of the over 500 younger girls who’ve reported related experiences.
Athlete A exposes the corrupt techniques that allowed Larry Nassar to deal with gymnasts for therefore lengthy.
Whereas Athlete A exhibits the occasions that led to Nassar’s imprisonment, it additionally exposes the corrupt techniques created by USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee that allowed the previous physician to deal with gymnasts for therefore lengthy. It shows how women in aggressive gymnastics had been bullied into consuming issues. It reveals that the boundaries between strict teaching and abuse had been often damaged. Worst of all, it uncovers how USAG selected to place their clear public picture above the emotional and bodily well-being of its feminine athletes, most of whom had been minors.
Whereas a lot of this has circled the information earlier than, the documentary dives deeper into these points and places a extra particular deal with the individuals who lined up Nassar’s abuses. One in every of these people is former USA Gymnastics president Steve Perry, who did not promptly report Nichols’ accusations to the FBI and often held her desires at stake to maintain her quiet. The documentary additional means that former coach Márta Károlyi ignored her gymnasts’ studies of abuse although a lot of Nassar’s mistreatment occurred at Karolyi Ranch, a coaching heart that she owned.
Maybe probably the most fascinating teams of individuals evaluated within the documentary is those that continued to help Nassar even after his abuses had been uncovered. There have been individuals who tried to vote him onto a faculty board and others who accused the survivors of searching for fame and cash on-line. Bullying like this occurs far too typically and discourages sexual assault survivors from coming ahead. Athlete A condemns this, and it is one thing that should frequently be condemned once more, and once more, and once more.
Although the documentary spends a number of time tearing down the dangerous practices of USAG, it additionally takes the chance to carry up the ladies who survived the group. Some of the gratifying moments of the documentary comes close to the tip when most of the abuse survivors take again the facility that was stripped from them as youngsters by calling out Nassar’s dangerous actions in court docket. This conclusion won’t qualify as a cheerful ending, however it’s a highly effective one.
The documentary reveals that Nichols left USA Gymnastics to as a substitute compete on the collegiate degree for the College of Oklahoma. She turned the NCAA Nationwide All-Round Champion in 2018 and defended that title the next 12 months. Nonetheless, the actual fact stays that had the USAG, U.S. Olympic Committee, or the FBI taken motion sooner, she and plenty of different younger girls won’t have suffered by way of such devastating abuse. The U.S. Division of Justice continues to research all three organizations.
Athlete A is a well-crafted glimpse into the sexism and abuse that girls have confronted in gymnastics. It is angering and disturbing, but it’s extremely crucial. It’ll enable you to perceive not solely how younger feminine athletes have been taken benefit of up to now however how they proceed to be taken benefit of at this time. Although the documentary cannot embody all of the mistreatment girls have confronted in sports activities, it’s a stable place to begin.
Athlete A is now streaming on Netflix.