"I remember asking one of my friends, 'Hey, if I have been touched here, have I been sexually assaulted?' she said
American gymnast Simone Arianne Biles has opened up about facing sexual abuse, ahead of Tokyo Olympics. In a new seven-part docu-series titled, Simone vs Herself, the Olympic gold medalist has revealed that she was one of the many young women who were abused by Larry Nassar, the former US Gymnastics team doctor, reported Elle. The doctor was later imprisoned under multiple charges for abuse and assault.
The report quotes the celebrated athlete sharing the incidents. “It was not fun; I remember telling my parents that. If I had to go back to the ranch, I would probably s**t myself. There is no way I could train for another Olympic cycle under that because I am more mature, I am older, and realising, ‘Wow, it didn’t have to be like that,” she stated referring to gymnastics coach Martha Karolyi’s gymnastics ranch, where she trained to become an athlete.
According to the outlet, the athletes saw Nassar as part of therapy–their “last station” of the day–at the end of their training session.
The 24-year-old further added, “I remember asking one of my friends, ‘Hey, if I have been touched here, have I been sexually assaulted?’ I thought I was being dramatic at first…She was like, ‘No, absolutely,’ I was like, ‘Are you sure, I don’t think so.’ In those instances, I was one of the luckier ones, because I did not get it as bad as some of the other girls that I knew.”
Biles took to Twitter to share a statement on the abuse, which, she said, “took a long time to write”. “[B]ecause every time I would go to write, I would start balling, and I couldn’t get through it. It did have ramifications though as US Gymnastics severed all relations with Karolyi Ranch. This is what had pushed her to speak out. “I knew that it would help others, and that’s why I did it—to let them know they are not alone,” she was further quoted as saying.
The documentary Athlete A also focuses on the pervasive abuse as well as the toxic culture ingrained in the US Olympic women’s gymnastics in 2016. Named after the first female athlete who called out the culture and consequently was rechristened, the documentary is a testament to the rigour of investigative journalism, spotlighting how age, essential for their training, made the female athletes more vulnerable. It also darkened the contours of sexual abuse the culture bred, making the trainers treat women’s bodies as disposable.
Biles too featured in the documentary and spoke about the way Nassar hid his abuse in plain sight.
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