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Jordan Reid

Author; Founding Editor, Ramshackle Glam

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USA Gymnastics not prioritizing safety of Simone Biles

Oct 05, 2023

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Simone Biles and the U.S. women’s gymnastics team achieved an impressive seventh consecutive world title at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Antwerp, Belgium. Biles is now the most decorated gymnast in U.S. history, and the American women’s team has maintained their unbeaten streak in world team titles since 2011.

Despite their remarkable achievements, controversy surrounds the organization. Straight Arrow News contributor Jordan Reid contends that USA Gymnastics has misplaced priorities and is failing to adequately support its athletes.

Just a few days ago, while competing at the 2023 World Artistic Gymnastics Championship in Belgium, Simone Biles became the first woman to ever perform the Yurchenko double pike. This skill will now be named the Biles II, the fifth of skills that have been named for her. It’s amazing. Truly, it’s a performance that will go down in history. Biles often takes small score deductions because the power of her performance can cause her to sort of bounce backwards upon landing, but on this occasion, there was an additional half-point deduction.

The reason — because her coach was standing on the mat, ready to assist should this incredibly risky vault go awry, which could happen even with a gymnast of Biles’ abilities. Her hand could slip, her push off the vault could be off-center, she could under-rotate and land on her head.

You may recall back in 2021, when Biles made the choice to step away from the Tokyo Olympics and the sport after experiencing “the twisties,” a common condition that affects gymnasts’ spatial orientation and one that can create very real safety fears. Upon Biles’ return to the world stage, she and her coach elected to have him physically on the mat while she performed the Yurchenko. He wasn’t touching her, he wasn’t interfering, he was simply there for her personal safety and, one might presume, well-deserved peace of mind.

Today let’s turn our focus from one shoddily run and dangerous organization, the GOP to another. That’s right. I’m talking about USA Gymnastics. By now we’re all familiar with the deeply harmful conditions imposed upon our country’s top tier gymnasts. Over two decades starting the 1990s. More than 368 people allege that they were sexually assaulted by employees and coaches of the organization. Specifically team Dr. Larry Nasser was named in just hundreds of lawsuits filed by athletes who alleged that he had sexually abused them for years and years under the pretense of providing medical treatment. Nasser is currently incarcerated and will almost certainly play out his remaining years in prison.

Again in 2021, longtime US Olympic gymnastics coach John Guittard, he died by suicide just hours after being charged with human trafficking and sexual assault. It’s safe to say that a harsh spotlight has been shown on what’s going on within the close knit community of women’s gymnastics. And, of course, that’s good. Except the problematic practices of the organization don’t stop with alleged willful ignorance of decades long abuse. The safety of the women who train and bleed for our country has very simply never been of paramount importance and continues not to be just a few days ago while competing at the 2023 world artistic gymnastics championship in Belgium. Simone Biles became the first woman to ever perform the Euro Chanko double pike. This skill will now be named the Biles to the fifth of skills that have been named for her. It’s amazing. Julie, it’s a performance that will go down in history. Buyers often take small score deductions because the power of her performance can cause her to sort of bounce backwards upon landing, but on this occasion, there was an additional half point deduction. The reason?

The reason because her coach was standing on the map ready to assist should this incredibly risky vault go awry, which could happen even with a gymnast of Biles abilities, her hand could slip her push off the vault could be off center she could under rotate and land on her head. You may recall back in 2021, when Biles made the choice to step away from the Tokyo Olympics and the sport after experiencing the twisties a common condition that affects gymnasts, spatial orientation, and one that can create very real safety fears. Upon Biles returned to the world stage she and her coach elected to have him physically on the mat. While she performed the wo Chanko. He wasn’t touching her he wasn’t interfering. He was simply there for her personal safety and one might presume well deserved peace of mind.

And this wasn’t a sign of weakness or self doubt. It was a sign of bravery and self advocacy. It was consistent with Byles ongoing refusal to put her physical and mental well being in serious danger for her sport. No one’s job should require being put into life and death situations, especially when protective measures are available. Biles and her coach did the right thing by having him there to ensure her safety and mitigate any anxiety she might have been experiencing. And the fact that she still received a deduction for this choice is yet more evidence of where the organization’s priorities lie. Hint It’s not with the athletes

 

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