Possible spoilers ahead.
Athlete A is an illuminating documentary focusing on the abuse of gymnasts by USAG doctor, Larry Nassar. This scathing documentary explains the ins-and-outs of the Nassar investigation and trial. In the original 2016 investigation, it was discovered that dozens of young women athletes had been abused during physical-therapy sessions and "routine" examinations. Nassar used his senior position and the athletes' trust to take complete advantage of them.
Much of this abuse had taken place at the infamous USA Gymnastics Olympic Training Center: Karolyi Ranch. While no parents were allowed to stay, the Karolyi's practiced their special type of discipline; this includes, but is certainly not limited to, tormenting the young women about their weight, age, and height. This information is imperative in order to understand how no adult ever did anything to stop Nassar. Through all the pain and torment, the athletes saw Nassar as the friendly authority figure they could completely trust.
The Indianapolis Star reporters who unraveled USAG's long web of lies disclosed that the cover-up happened at the highest level of this sport. The courageous group of women – Maggie Nichols, Rachel Denhollander, Jamie Dantzscher and Jessica Howard – stood together, alongside many others, to Nassar during the trial. These brave women stood up to their attacker and helped to put him behind bars.
The point of this film wasn't just to show what happened behind the scenes, it was meant to help gymnasts realize what was actually happening to them. This documentary helped to expose the abuse, physical and mental, that was done to many gymnasts, not just at the Olympic level. Madison Abel, an 18 year old level 10 gymnast, felt completely mortified by the actions depicted in the film. When she was younger, Abel spent some time at the Karolyi Ranch for one of their training camps. She remembers everything being tough and intimidating, especially when seen through the eyes of an 11 year old girl.
Madison Caudill, a level 9 gymnast, never realized how bad the abuse truly was until watching this film. While watching the documentary, Caudill realized that most of what was said in the film was true. It made her rethink the way in which she was treated growing up and how it affected her life. She stated that "the younger you are in the sport, the better it is." This is because it's easier for the coaches to control the way these gymnasts think, making it harder for the athletes to stand up for themselves.
Though both gymnasts had completely different experiences with the sport, they had one experience in common. When gymnasts get injured, they aren't told to just sit down and ice. They're told to push through the pain, or sometimes even told the pain is all in their head. Many gymnasts don't get their injuries checked out until months after it happens due to their coaches controlling their every move.
Every gymnast, including myself, could relate to this film in one way or another. It's definitely hard to watch this documentary and not rethink your own experiences in the sport. Though it's hard knowing all the bad things that have happened, none of us regret choosing this sport. Gymnastics is a major part of who we are, and it made us the people we've become. It's important to remember what happened to every athlete harmed by USA Gymnastics, and learn from their experience. It's time for everyone involved in this sport to take a hard look at everything and start making changes.