After being denied the opportunity to speak at Larry Nassar's trial by the judge, US Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman shared her heartbreaking testimony letter to The Players Tribune.

The three time Olympic champion began her letter by explaining why she chose to write it. She hopes that "it will help others understand the profound impact Larry’s abuse has had on me, how his betrayal of trust has changed me and how his actions years ago continue to affect my daily life".

Last month, Raisman revealed that she was one of the many gymnasts who fell victim to the disgraced team doctor Larry Nassar's sexual abuse. She said that he started treating her at the age of fifteen which was when the alleged abuse started.

Raisman wrote in the letter that she was taught to trust doctors hence believed that "you had my best interests at heart, and you made sure that message was reinforced, insisting your inappropriate touch was for medical reasons".

Nassar manipulated his victims into thinking that he was a good person and their friend " so that we would trust you, to make it easier for you to take advantage of so many people, including me. But you lied to me. You lied to all of us."

She explained that how his abuse took a toll on her that she has a hard time trusting other doctors.

"When I go to the doctor, especially a male doctor, I am scared and uncomfortable. Even if that doctor is recommended as the best, I am skeptical because I was told you were the best, and you certainly weren’t. I am afraid that another doctor will mistreat me and abuse his power like you did. In turn, I feel guilty that I harbor these doubts and suspicions."

She recalled how she avoided certain treatments that gymnasts rely upon, especially during intense Olympic training in the fear of having the abuse happen again.

"I should have gotten massages three times a week or so, but I was too afraid (even if the therapist was a woman). I lost confidence in my recovery, and this uncertainty began to undermine my training. Even today, I find myself scared that something bad will happen to me when I seek any medical treatment."

Larry's abuse made her overwhelmed by anxiety describing how she couldn't breath or even sleep well due to having terrible nightmares. The anxiety was to severe that she had to see a therapist ' a female one' who put her on prescription drugs which resulted in her having a bad reaction and losing consciousness.

She woke up to her terrified mom calling 911. She was loaded into an ambulance and taken to the hospital. Her doctor recommended that she tries other medications to help her cope.

After this experience, she decided she needed to allow herself to feel what she had been suppressing for so long. she had spent so much time and energy trying to block out all the pain and trauma, and I realized it was just too much for me to contain.

"It was the most difficult period in my life. I was exhausted, barely able to do things I loved. I had no energy. I felt sad, anxious and confused. I couldn’t understand how someone could be so evil. And, painfully, Larry and his actions made me hate gymnastics for a time. Larry, you made me feel so uncomfortable and sad, and you made me believe the sport had let me down."

While it is not easy, she fights hard to believe that the sport, she loves, is independent of Larry and those who allowed him to abuse her.

"I’ve decided that I can’t let him take gymnastics away from me."

The 23 year old gymnast also wrote that still has her triggers despite her coping mechanism as finds herself constantly looking around, paranoid and afraid to be alone.

"When I am at a hotel by myself and I order room service, I worry a male will deliver the food."

"I’ve had to develop strategies and coping mechanisms. If a male knocks on the door, my heart begins to race. I hold the door open as he drops off the food and keep it open until he leaves."

"I often wonder if I am hurting their feelings by being so obviously distrusting of them. I always used to give people the benefit of the doubt, but if a decorated doctor who served on the national team for over 30 years turned out to be a monster, then how can I trust anybody? Now, I’ll often catch myself being scared that people I meet are like Larry. And I hate that. I hate that Larry took away my trust of others."

Because of Larry, her friendship with one of her best friends has suffered as she has also fallen victim to his abuse. 

"I thought we would be friends forever because we had gone through the best and worst moments together. But I think I remind her too much of what Larry did to us, and our friendship has suffered."

Written by Gigi Farid

Maroney/ Facebook
Last October, former US gymnast Mckayla Maroney took part in MeToo campaign revealing that she was one of the gymnasts who fell victim to team doctor Larry Nassar's sexual abuse.

This week, Maroney along with her mother Erin Maroney released the victim-impact statements in form of letters that where supposed to be read out loud in court where Nassar is being tried for sexually assaulting dozens of female athletes and possessing child pornography.

"This experience has shattered McKayla," Erin Maroney wrote in the letter describing her daughter's ordeal. "She has transformed from a bubbly, positive, loving, world class athlete into a young adult who was deeply depressed, at times suicidal. At times, I was unsure whether I would open her bedroom door and find her dead."

Warning graphic content

"I ... learned a few weeks ago from my daughter that at the world championships in Tokyo, [Nassar] drugged her, made her lay nude on a treatment table, straddled her and digitally penetrated her while rubbing his erect penis against her. She was only 15 years old. She said to me, 'Mom I thought I was going to die.'"

"I cannot tell you the anguish her Dad and I feel and the responsibility we feel for not being aware of this or being able to stop it."

According to the letters, the national team training camps did not allow parents to be present hence Maroney's parents were unable to observe what Nassar was doing.

They were not allowed to stay with McKayla during travel abroad and sometimes they were not even in the same hotel.

Erin wrote that her husband once questioned the propriety of the isolation of the girls during international travel. He was assured by Steve Penny that the girls were safe at all times, more safe than the president himself.

"We now know that this was a lie," Erin wrote. 

In Maroney's letter, the almost 22 year old former gymnast wrote that the sexual abuse started at the age of 13 at one of her first national team training camps, in Texas, and it didn't end until she left the sport.

The abuse happened before the team final in London where she won gold and before the vault final, where she won silver.

Maroney was the heavy favorite to win gold on vault at that time but a fall on her second vault had her settled for a silver. It is worth mentioning that Maroney had never fallen on this vault until the Olympic event finals.

"Our daughter was totally failed by USA Gymnastics, by Michigan State University and by the U.S. Olympic Committee. No one from the USOC has ever reached out to me or my husband or my daughter to inquire about her well being. Not once. No one has apologized," Erin Maroney wrote.

 "After McKayla spoke with an investigator with USA Gymnastics in July 2015, USA Gymnastics and the USOC kept the knowledge of [Nassar's] status as a child molester secret from Michigan State University after 2015 and even said nothing when he ran for school board in his local school district!"

According to the lawsuits, several victims raised concerns regarding Larry's treatments but they were dismissed.

"A simple fact is this. If Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee had paid attention to any of the red flags in Larry Nassar's behavior, I never would have met him, I never would have been 'treated' by him and I never would have been abused by him," McKayla Maroney wrote.

"It is my hope that the federal and law state enforcement agencies will not close the book on Larry Nassar scandal after her receives his just punishment. It is time to hold the leadership of Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee for allowing and in some cases enabling, his crime."

"Our silence has given the wrong people power for too long and it's time to take our power back."   

According to FBI agent, Nassar possesd 37,000 images and videos of child pornography, with images of girls as young as 6 or 7 being sexually violated.

"How many more images were on his computer at Michigan State University that he erased? Were McKayla's images on there? Were his other victims? Did he trade those images with other pedophiles? Are those images on the dark web today? These are questions that keep my husband and I up at night," Erin Maroney wrote. 

"I know this also haunts my daughter. Will she wake up one day to find an image of her 13-year-old self being assaulted on the internet? This is what our family must live with and it will never go away."

Nassar, who worked with USAG for nearly three decades and Michigan State University for nearly two decades, was given 60 years in prison of child abuse this week.

The disgraced doctor will be sentenced in the sexual abuse case in January.

Maroney is one of the most successful gymnasts, USA has ever produced. Beside her Olympic medals, she is three time World champion.

Her last competition was the 2013 World championship where she defended her World vault title. She officially announced her retirement in 2013.

In 2014, Maroney revealed in a Youtube video that she was battling depression and anxiety. During 2016 Gymcastic video interview, she said that she was mentally abused by her coaches, Artur Akopyan and Galina Marinova.

Maroney's letter

Written by Gigi Farid

After former US team doctor was given sixty years in prison for child abuse images, gymnast Aly Raisman sharply criticized USA Gymnastics, Michigan state and US Olympic committee in a series of tweets.

"We must look at the organizations that protected Nassar; @USAGym @TeamUSA @michiganstateu Until we understand the flaws in their systems, we can't be sure something like this won’t happen again. This is bigger than Larry. Those who looked other way need to be held accountable 2."

"I fear that there are still people working at these organizations who put money, medals and reputation above the safety of athletes. @michiganstateu @TeamUSA @USAGym."

"I wish @USAGym understood how painful & hurtful it is that they just don't seem to care. I am so devastated and disappointed in how they've handled this."

Raisman is one of the gymnasts who were sexually abused by Larry Nassar under the guise of treatment. 

The Olympic champion spoke about the abuse in her book "Fierce". She has also vowed to keep speaking up against USAG until she sees change. 

The 23 year old gymnast has previously blasted the organization for poorly handling Nassar's sexual abuse.

Nassar worked for USA Gymnastics for three decades and Michigan State University for two decades. During that time, he sexually abused more than 140 female athletes.

Raisman's teammate Gabby Douglas and Mckayla Maroney has also accused Nassar of sexually abusing them.

Written by Gigi Farid

Photo by Silvia Vatteroni

Last week, gymnastics fans went ballistic when video of 13 year old Japanese gymnast Chiaki Hatakeda competing a quad twist during 2017 All Japan Team Championships surfaced online.

But did she really complete all of her twists or was it merely an attempt?

This is Chiaki's quad twist:

This is hers in slow motion:

This is how she landed it:

She was very close to completing it as she landed after triple and 3/4 twists. However, the CoP is very strict regarding the number of completed twists which they downgrade if gymnasts under rotate it.

Chiaki, who was born in 2003, turns senior in 2019.

Written by Gigi Farid.

Photo by Ginnastica Artistica Italiana
At the 2017 World championships, which was held in Montreal last October, eight skills were submitted by seven gymnasts.

Five of the eight skills were successfully performed hence were added to the CoP, most of which were on the uneven bars.

Gymnast: Nina Derwael/Georgia Mae Fenton
Country: Belgium/Great Britain
Skill Stalder backward with counter straddle reverse hecht over HB with ½ (180°) turn to hang in mixed L-grip 
Rating: F



Gymnast: Tabea Alt
Country: Germany
Skill Stoop through on HB, dislocate and release with half (180°) turn in flight between the bars to catch LB in hang  
Rating: C

Gymnast: Tabea Alt
Country: Germany
Skill Clear Straddle underswing with forward tuck salto with ½ (180°) turn

Rating: C

Gymnast: Fan Yilin
Country: China
Skill From L-grip, Swing bwd, ½ (180°) turn, to double salto bwd tucked

Rating: D

Gymnast: Aiko Sugihara
Country: Japan
Skill 2/1 (720°) turn with free leg held upwardin 180° split position throughout the turn

Rating: E

GIF by 
*Note: Sugihara successfully competed the skill in the all around competition but no footage of it was available.

Brasil's Rebecca Andrade submitted her full and half twisting double back tuck on floor (G) but had to withdraw from the competition after tearing her ACL.

Sugihara submitted a two and half Y turn on beam but did not compete it.

Dutch Sanne Wevers submitted a two and half turn with leg below horizontal (E) but also did not compete it.

In 2017, gymnasts had to successfully submit and perform their skills at the World championships in order to have it named after them. However, starting from next February, gymnasts will be able to get their skills named after them at any of the FIG official competitions.

According to the current rules, if more than one gymnast competed the original skill, it will be added to the CoP bearing no name. Nevertheless, the Ricna half was named after both gymnasts, Nina and Georgia. 

By next February, if more than one gymnast competed the same skill, it will be named after all of them.

Written by Gigi Farid.

Photo by Ginnastica Artistica Italiana

In the previous times, senior gymnasts had to submit and compete their original skills at World championships or the Olympics in order to have it named after them.

But starting from next February, gymnasts can have their skills added to the CoP and named after them at any of the official FIG competitions such as World Cups.

If more than one gymnast successfully competed the skill at the same competition, it will be named after all of them.

New skills used to be added bearing no name, if more than one gymnast submitted and competed it at the same competition.

It is worth mentioning that skills need to be C or higher in order for it to be named after the performer.

FIG competitions in 2018

Written by Gigi Farid.

"I made history but no one knows me" writes Spanish gymnast Patricia Moreno in her Instagram and Twitter bio.

This beautiful former athlete, whom everybody should know, is one of the best gymnasts Spain has ever produced.

Moreno was born in 1988 and at the 2003 World championships, which was her first ever major international event at senior level, she helped her team finish in fifth place in the final. By qualifying to the pre Olympic Worlds team final, the Spanish team secured a trip to the Olympics in Athens.

This was the last time Spain sent a full team in women's artistic gymnastics to the Olympics. At 2008 Beijing, they were represented by Laura Campos and At 2012 London Olympics, they had no representative individually or team wise.

In Rio, Spain made an appearance after 8 years of Olympic absence when Ana Perez earned an individual spot through test events. There, Perez finished thirty-sixth in the preliminary phase of the competition.

Moreno was named to the 2004 Olympic team where they finished in fifth place. At that time, all the eyes were on her teammate Elena Gomez who became the first Spanish female artistic gymnast to win a World title two years earlier. The gold came on floor exercise.

Gomez continued her success the following year by winning bronze on the same event at Worlds.

The World champion was a strong contender on floor in Athens but finished in 10th place in the qualification thus missing out on final spot.

Moreno, the then little unknown gymnast, debuted the difficult three and half twisting back layout which now bears her name in the CoP and is rated an F.

She went on to perform a solid routine in floor exercise final which earned her Spain's first Olympic medal in women's artistic gymnastics. She claimed bronze behind Romanian champions Catalina Ponor and Daniela Șofronie.

The Olympic medalist continued competing after Athens. She was part of the 2006 World Spanish team who finished in 8th place in the final.

This was the last time for Spain to qualify to the team final at a World championships. 

A knee injury forced her to retire in 2008. She now works as a coach in her home country.

Moreno's achievement: 

First female artistic Spanish gymnast to win an Olympic medal.
Originator of the super difficult triple twist and half back layout that carries an F rating.
Member of the last Spanish Olympic team in women's artistic gymnastics.
Member of the last Spanish World team finalist in women's artistic gymnastics.

Moreno has only 1,198 followers on Instagram and 965 followers on Twitter. Heck she deserves more than that.

She blossomed into an absolutely gorgeous woman and often writes  positive and uplifting captions.

She also shares lots of gymnastics content.

Make sure to follow her.

Written by Gigi Farid 

Kathy Johnson Clarke, who competed for the US Olympic team in 1984 and won two medals, has written a lengthy open letter on sexual abuse in the sport.

"Predators know their way around good mothers and fathers. They know their way around any environment or program not created specifically to keep them out. If steps aren't taken to deny a predator, pedophile or abuser access to young people that person can seek out the most vulnerable, naive, trusting, spirited, reckless or rebellious among the unsuspecting.  Just as many of those qualities exist in most young people a skillful predator can use them against their prey."

"There has been gross negligence on the part of many, which is what created the culture in which really exceptional kids with unsuspecting parents, many of whom were good, involved, invested, loving parents while some may have been to varying degrees either less involved, caught up in their child's gymnastics development or success, or simply “flying blind”, completely trusting, and unaware of potential dangers."

"If people insist on asking or telling victims “why did you, why didn’t you, if only you, if only your mom or dad, didn’t you know…the list goes on and on and on, we will NEVER create the safest possible environment because we are shutting down the very people we need to listen to and learn from."

"It's just not as simple as being “blessed” with a good mother, father, coach or having some super power to ward off anyone seeking to take advantage of you. If we think like that it further shames victims, which is EXACTLY what their abuser depends on. That and fear.
I am truly happy for those left unscathed and whole, but I am in touch with those who were not and are not. It is for them to tell their own stories, but I will remark on one who was lucky. She got spooked by what we now know was “grooming” and done to lure her into trusting her coach’s “methods” to improve her gymnastics. She bolted. Coach told us she had mental problems and it was too hard for her to train and live away from home. We believed him. She left her dream, the place where she was happy and wanted to be, and didn’t tell the other girls because she didn't know what to say and didn't want to ruin everyone else's experience there. It was such a fun place. Fortunately, her father reported it to USGF. Unfortunately, the story gets fuzzy there. "

"Now I wonder about some of the other girls and the stories I was told about why they abruptly left so many years ago, just as I wonder about the “stories” my teammates heard when I left. I was not a victim of sexual abuse, but I now know some who were. At best, it was a dysfunctional, albeit fun and unique, place to live, train and go after big dreams. At worst, it was a recipe for disaster, a nightmare for some."

"Because we normalized what I now know to be grooming type behaviors by creating a big gray area in which we lived, played, trained, joked and grew up, a predator could easily cross over the line without someone noticing. Because there were other types of abuse that were normalized – verbal, psychological and emotional abuse, over-training, over-dieting, under-eating, exhaustion, injuries and questionable motivational methods – most girls didn't know the difference between healthy and unhealthy, positive or negative reinforcement, and more dangerously, normal grown up behavior and creepy, inappropriate, even criminal behavior."

"To make matters worse they had no idea how, when or if they should confide in someone, much less to whom they should turn. They simply quit, went home, endured it, developed other issues or problems that masked or hid it, then buried it for years, if not forever."

"Now, with that tale in mind insert elite gymnasts, the toughest athletes on the planet, training and sacrificing all to fulfill HUGE dreams to make World and Olympic Teams in an increasingly competitive atmosphere and the “work hard, focus, don’t whine or complain, endure anything and everything you can to be the best you can be” mentality is increased exponentially, and you see where we find ourselves today."

"Had it not happened at our National Training Center or to the stars in our sport, and had those incredibly brave young women not had the courage to come forward and speak out for themselves and others who may or may not tell their stories, we could have continued to do too little, too late, to really change the culture that allowed all this to fester and grow.
I believe more will come forward. Please open your ears, eyes, minds and hearts and listen."

"And as you do, know this: Abuse is complicated, insidious and achingly more prevalent than people realize. By simplifying it or believing that if only they had done "x" or been "y" or had "z" they would have been safe we do more harm to those who were so damaged by someone they trusted, believed in, and even loved, and more important, we empower the abusers!"

"Ask yourself, do you WANT abuse victims to keep their painful stories to themselves, to hold on to it forever because it is old news, uncomfortable to hear or about someone you know, like or want to continue to believe in and respect?"

"Two of my coaches are on the banned list. I loved both of them even when they weren’t perfect or hurt me in other ways. I can forgive them for those. But, until they fall to their knees and say how horribly WRONG and deeply SORRY they are to have preyed on my friends, teammates, or fellow gymnasts and offer the entire gymnastics community an apology I stand with and alongside the survivors, and I stand for culture change and bright line rules to educate, prevent, report and prosecute abuse."

Last month, Clarke was one of the two gymnasts - the other being Aly Raisman - who defended former Olympic gymnast Tatiana Gutsu who alleged that she was raped by fellow teammate Vitaly Scherbo.

Written by Gigi Farid