Athlete A

I love Netflix and I love a documentary. I have binged on so many great Netflix documentaries through lock down; Tiger King, Filthy Rich, Icarus and The Mind of Aaron Hernandez to name a few, but as soon as I saw this advertised I knew I needed to watch it.

Gymnastics is always one of my favourite sports to watch during the Olympics; even though it alway devastates me I don’t have the physical ability myself. Team USA are always such good competition and I remember being shocked when the story of Dr Nassar was in the news.

The documentary focuses on a few of the girls who were survivors of Dr Nassar but in particular Maggie Nichols who was on the USA Gymnastics team whilst the story broke and whose parents had reported Dr Nassar to USA Gymnastics president Steve Penney.

I can already imagine the criticism that is going to come from this documentary: the girls surely knew it was wrong why didn’t they say anything? Which is what this world seems to be really good at, blaming the victims. But Athlete A gives us an insight into the physical and emotional abuse that the gymnasts were facing for the head coach and that Dr Nassar was actually their kind safe haven. He also convinced so many people that what he was doing was medical; including the police, so why would the girls be confident in challenging that?

The documentary asks the question ‘what is the cost of winning?’ And that is the underlying question throughout. If the girls weren’t suffering such physical and emotional abuse and had a caring team around them it is unlikely Dr Nassar would have gotten away with doing what he did.

Attending the Olympics is the dream of so many athletes and having that exciting memory tarred by a sexual predator must be so horrendous.

What I really appreciated about IndyStar; the newspaper that broke the story, is that they remained true to the root of the story and never forgot that the problem was not only Dr Nassar who was sexually abusing the girls, but USA Gymnastics who were building a climate and culture which allowed abuse to occur on so many different levels.

I hope with all of my heart that the bravery of the girls in coming forward to tell their story saves the many others who will come after them.

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