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Written by Amanda Turner    Tuesday, 13 February 2018 22:17    PDF Print
Manly: USAG Lied to Congress on Non-Disclosure Agreements
(11 votes, average 3.73 out of 5)



USA Gymnastics' reply to a Congressional inquiry claims that the federation never used confidentiality agreements in settlements with victims of sexual abuse with the exception of McKayla Maroney, a claim disputed by Maroney's lawyer. Pictured: American gymnast McKayla Maroney at the 2011 World Championships

USA Gymnastics' reply to a Congressional inquiry claims that the federation never used confidentiality agreements in settlements with survivors of sexual abuse with the exception of McKayla Maroney, a claim disputed by Maroney's lawyer.

California attorney John Manly, who represents many of the survivors suing USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) and Michigan State University (MSU) over sexual abuse by former team doctor Larry Nassar, said it's "a lie" that USAG's only non-disclosure agreement (NDA) was with Maroney.

"I've spoken with multiple athletes who were forced into signing NDAs with USAG," he told IG Tuesday evening.

USAG, the USOC and MSU provided written statements in response to a congressional inquiry that were released Tuesday by the Senate subcommittee led by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), members of the Senate subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security that has jurisdiction over the health and safety of American athletes, including those competing through the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

The senators sent letters to all three institutions on January 25, the day after Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in Ingham County, Michigan, on seven charges of assault, the first of two public sentencing hearings in which any survivors of Nassar's abuse were allowed to speak. The letter inquired about "systemic failures to protect athletes from sexual abuse and the reported filing of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to silence a victim of abuse." On February 2, the senators broadened the scope of their investigation and sent letters to the other 53 national governing bodies (NGBs) under the U.S. Olympic Committee, after learning that two USOC executives were reportedly aware of sexual misconduct by Nassar one year before allegations against him became public and he was suspended by MSU in September 2016.

While represented by Gloria Allred, Maroney reportedly signed a settlement with USA Gymnastics for $1.25 million in December 2016, which Manly has stated was signed under duress as she desperately needed a medical intervention to save her life. (Her mother, in her own victim impact statement issued to the judge in Nassar's federal case, stated that McKayla had been suicidal.) The settlement reportedly contained a clause fining her $100,000 if she were to speak about the abuse, and also included a clause fining her parents the same amount if they were to speak about it, even though they were not party to any lawsuit and did not sign any agreement.

In October, as the #MeToo revolution spoke up, Maroney released a statement on Twitter sharing that she had also been sexually abused by Nassar multiple times, as well as drugged and assaulted by him at the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo. From 2011 to 2013, Maroney won three world championship gold medals, and gold and silver medals at the 2012 Olympics in London.

USA Gymnastics President & CEO Kerry Perry prefaced her responses to the senators' questions by stating she is new at the position and does not have first-hand knowledge of anything that occurred prior to December 1, 2017.

However, Manly took issue with Perry's response to the senators' fourth question, "Is it common practice by USOC and NGBs to utilize NDAs during investigations involving their organizations?" with a blanket response concerning USA Gymnastics history.

"USA Gymnastics has not used NDAs in conjunction with any investigation, but I cannot speak to the use of NDAs by other NGBs," Perry wrote.

Manly declined to say how many gymnasts he knew of who had signed NDAs with USAG, but said the athletes were in several states, not just California, where Maroney resides. Under California law, it is illegal to apply a confidentiality agreement in any civil case in which the underlying offense is a felony sex act. This law has been in place for several years. Maroney filed a lawsuit in December against USAG, USOC and MSU, which included that the previous settlement be set aside, including the confidentiality agreement, which is not only illegal but unenforceable according to California law.

In a deposition that took place in the spring of 2017, Manly asked then-USAG Chairman Paul Parilla, himself a retired judge, if he knew that such confidentiality agreements were illegal in California and how many other confidentiality agreements USAG had used with other Nassar victims. According to the deposition transcript, USAG's attorney instructed Parilla not to respond to either question.

In the USAG's statement, Perry wrote that USA Gymnastics had agreed to dissolve the confidentiality agreement with Maroney "and certain other settlement provisions challenged in her lawsuit."

There are three Congressional investigations underway in response to bipartisan outrage over the Nassar tragedy. More than 250 women came forward to issue statements at two hearings in Michigan in which they described being sexually abused by Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics, U.S. Olympic Committee and Michigan State University team doctor. Many also accused USAG, USOC and MSU of failing to safeguard them from abuse and enabling Nassar's behavior.

Nassar, 54, was sentenced to a maximum of 300 years in prison for 10 counts of sexual assault. He pleaded guilty to the 10 counts in Michigan in addition to three counts in federal court related to child pornography. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison on the federal charges and was transferred to a maximum-security penitentiary in Tucson, Arizona, on Saturday. He is appealing the sentences.

More than 140 plaintiffs have joined a federal civil suit filed by Rachael Denhollander — who in September 2016 became the first woman to publicly accuse Nassar of sexual assault — against MSU, USAG, USOC, Nassar, John Geddert and Geddert's Twistars Gymnastics, the Michigan club where Nassar worked as a volunteer team coach for 20 years. USA Gymnastics has issued a motion to dismiss in Denhollander et al v MSU et al, denying liability in the case for any victims abused outside of Nassar's role with the U.S. national team.

The USOC's response to the Senate inquiry came from lawyer Brian D. Smith, of a Washington, D.C. law firm retained by the USOC. Smith wrote that the USOC's leadership was — "to the best of its current knowledge" — not aware of the settlement with Maroney, including the confidentiality agreement. The USOC also stated that it had begun its own investigation. The response also included an open letter from USOC CEO Scott Blackmun to athletes.

At least eight individuals have stated they informed MSU employees of Nassar's sexual assaults dating to 1997, and media investigations reported that at least 14 employees at MSU were aware of the allegations at some point. However, the university denied it had any knowledge of his sexual assaults, despite clearing him in its own investigation in 2014.

In its unsigned statement, MSU wrote that its current and past employees "have said that they do not remember the alleged reports to them (some of which would have taken place as many as 20 years ago) as they have been described. To date, there has been no indication that any MSU employee understood at any time prior to September 2016 that Nassar engaged in sexual misconduct. As noted earlier, MSU continues to investigate and may learn more as part of the litigation discovery process."

Perry's statement to the Senate also includes a questionable timeline in USA Gymnastics' response to Nassar. Contrary to statements made by Maggie Nichols and her family, that she and her coach, Sarah Jantzi, were the first to notify USA Gymnastics of sexual abuse by Larry Nassar, Perry's letter claims that "on June 17, 2015, USA Gymnastics was contacted by a member coach regarding her athlete being uncomfortable with treatment she received from Dr. Nassar. This was not a report of abuse but led the organization to conduct three athlete interviews to learn more."

Nichols came forward on January 9 to reveal that she was "Athlete A," the first-known gymnast to report sexual abuse by Larry Nassar to USA Gymnastics, after her coach overheard her discussing Nassar's "treatments" at the Karolyi ranch national team training center. In her statement, she twice states that she reported abuse, not that she reported being "uncomfortable:" "In the summer of 2015, my coach and I reported this abuse to USA Gymnastics leadership.... My coach thought it was wrong, so she did the right thing and reported this abuse to the USA Gymnastics staff."

In her civil lawsuit against USAG and other parties, the complaint states that Jantzi "reported Defendant Nassar's misconduct to Defendant USAG officials" and Nichols' parents, that "Nassar's misconduct was reported to Defendant USAG's immediate past president Steve Penny, among other officials," and that "On multiple occasions Mr. Penny discouraged [Nichols'] parents from reporting Defendant Nassar's conduct to law enforcement and pressured them to keep the matter quiet."

Also on January 9, USA Gymnastics issued a statement in which it claimed that "Maggie's conversation overheard by a coach and her willingness to be interviewed about her comments and experiences initiated the process that resulted in the conviction of Larry Nassar for the reprehensible crimes he committed." This is contrary to all known facts in the case, as USA Gymnastics only reportedly informed the FBI at some point about Nassar, but the FBI took no consequential action. Nichols was not interviewed until more than a year after she made her report.

Nassar's arrest and conviction in Michigan were the result of Denhollander's report to the MSU Police Department on August 29, 2016, and The Indianapolis Star publishing her story September 12, 2016, along with the similar allegations by two anonymous women, later identified as Jamie Dantzscher and Jessica Howard, which resulted in dozens more women contacting MSU Police to file additional police reports. The MSU Police, in cooperation with the Michigan Attorney General, led the investigation into Nassar, which led to his arrest on November 22, 2016. After more than 100 had come forward, Nassar pleaded guilty in a plea agreement with the Michigan Attorney General exactly one year after charges were announced. His conviction in the child pornography case was also the result of Denhollander's report to the MSU Police, which issued a search warrant for Nassar's home on September 20, 2016.

The FBI has refused to comment on its inaction in the case. According to reports, more than 40 women and girls were sexually abused by Nassar between the time Maggie Nichols reported the abuse in June 2015 and when Nassar was suspended by MSU on August 30, 2016, the day after Rachael Denhollander filed her police report with the MSU Police.

Manly said he was bewildered by USAG's official statement in response to the Senate inquiry and wondered if Perry was even aware of the ramifications. Manly noted that USAG's statement was personally signed by Perry, unlike the USOC's statement, which came from an outside attorney, and MSU's unsigned statement.

"That woman needs to get her own lawyer," Manly said in reference to Perry.

Click here to read the letter from Sen. Blumenthal and Sen. Moran to USA Gymnastics. (January 25, 2018)
Click here to read the full response from USAG CEO Kerry Perry. (February 9, 2018)
Click here to read the full USOC response from attorney Brian D. Smith. (February 9, 2018)
Click here to read the full response from the MSU. (February 12, 2018)

 
Written by Amanda Turner    Saturday, 10 February 2018 09:08    PDF Print
Nassar Transferred to Arizona Federal Prison
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)



Former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar has been transferred to a high-security federal prison in Tucson, the federal inmate locator showed Saturday, where he will likely spend the rest of his life alongside other sex offenders.

Editor's Note: This article contains graphic content about child pornography and child sexual abuse.

Former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar has been transferred to a high-security federal penitentiary in Tucson, Arizona, where he will likely spend the rest of his life alongside other sex offenders. According to the Michigan Attorney General's Office, more than 300 individuals have been identified as victims of the doctor who preyed upon patients and other young girls.

Nassar, 54, was sentenced to 60 years on federal charges related to child pornography in December, a sentence he must serve before he theoretically begins serving his Michigan state sentences on sexual assault. Now federal inmate No. 21504-040, his earliest release date is March 23, 2069, when his age would be 106. He was also ordered to pay more than $57,000 in restitution to five victims abused in the files he downloaded.

On Monday, Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 125 years in Michigan prison by Eaton County Judge Janice K. Cunningham on three counts of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree. On January 24, he was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison on seven counts of criminal sexual conduct by Ingham County Judge Rosemarie E. Aquilina. More than 200 survivors delivered victim impact statements at his sentencing hearings, sharing shocking accounts of grotesque sexual abuse by the once-trusted doctor. Nassar pleaded guilty to the 10 counts in November, after more than a year of denying he ever assaulted anyone, claiming he was performing valid osteopathic techniques when penetrating young girls and women. He also molested a family friend, beginning when she was just 6 years old.

Nassar's federal and state sentences are to be served consecutively and not concurrently, which means a total sentence of 140 to 360 years in prison. He received the maximum sentence in each of the three cases.

Nassar must first serve his federal sentence for receipt of and possession of child pornography and for obstruction of justice. According to the federal sentencing memo, Nassar "amassed an enormous collection of abominable images" involving the graphic abuse and rape of children "as young as infants." A forensic examination of the drives showed that between 2003 and 2016, he downloaded more than 37,000 photos and videos. After the first accusations against him were made public in September 2016, he attempted to destroy evidence, throwing away hard drives at home and hiring a professional to erase his work-issued laptop. The hard drives were recovered in the trash on the street by the Michigan State University Police, who happened to find them because the trash service was late that day. He was indicted in December 2016 and pleaded guilty to all three charges in July; he received 20 years in prison on each count.

As part of the plea agreement, the federal government did not charge him with his sexual assaults on four national team gymnasts in violation of 18 United States Code § 2423 (b) Travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and (c) engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places. This decision not to charge him was made with the agreement of the four victims in question, according to the sentencing memorandum.

Nassar was also not charged with the creation of child pornography despite police reports that stated video footage was discovered of him assaulting a young girl in the pool at his home in Holt, Michigan. However, Nassar explicitly agreed that "in determining the sentence, the Court may consider uncharged conduct in determining" his sentence, as well as his pattern of behavior concerning the assaults he pleaded guilty to in state court.

Until Friday, Nassar was still at a low-security federal prison in Milan, Michigan, south of Ann Arbor, prior to being transferred to Tucson United States Penitentiary (USP) in Pima County, Arizona. Tucson USP is relatively new, being completed in 2005. According to a 2017 Federal Bureau of Prisons report, the compound is situated on 670 acres and includes the all-male maximum-security penitentiary that now houses Nassar, the Federal Correctional Institution for men and women, and an adjacent minimum-security federal prison camp. Tucson USP houses nearly 1,400 inmates, the mass majority of which are sex offenders. Notable inmates at Tucson USP include Bryan David Mitchell, who is serving a life sentence for the 2002 abduction and sexual assault of Utah teenager Elizabeth Smart.

The Tucson USP is the only federal prison able to house Nassar, who is required to be in a Sex Offender Management Program (SOMP), available at only a few federal facilities. All federal inmates sentenced to more than 30 years must be placed in a high-security facility; Tucson is the only high-security facility with a SOMP.

Nassar offered weak apologies at all three of his sentencing hearings. Despite Nassar's guilty pleas and apologies, Judge Aquilina read portions of a six-page letter he had written after the sentencing hearing began in her courtroom on January 16, in which Nassar claimed he was innocent and that his victims were all ungrateful patients who had been brainwashed by the media into believing he had abused them.

Nassar, along with USA Gymnastics, Michigan State University, and Geddert's Twistars Gymnastics, is being sued by more than 140 individuals in a federal civil lawsuit, Denhollander et al v MSU et al. The U.S. Olympic Committee is also being sued by several individuals related to Nassar's sexual abuse that occurred at the Karolyi ranch and at various Olympic Games. Nassar lost the case by default as he has filed no motions in the case.

The parade of women and their loved ones who spoke at the sentencing stunned and angered the world with their stories of not only sexual abuse but also injustice and indifference from the institutions that have been accused of protecting and enabling Nassar for decades.

At the Ingham County hearing, survivors Emma Ann Miller, 15, and Kaylee Lorincz, 17, called on Nassar to name names and reveal anyone who enabled his decades of sexual assaults.

"Instead of getting up at your sentencing, giving some hollow, insincere apology, you could outline all the times — for me, for us — that MSU, Twistars and USAG should have stopped you," Miller told Nassar on January 22. "Do the right thing for us. Be honest, try and help us. Tell us who knew what and when. Tell us how and when there were opportunities to stop you. Tell us about the tell-tale signs that others at MSU, Twistars and USAG should have seen but didn't. In one of your last public acts, actually help someone."

Lorincz, the second-to-last survivor to speak at the Ingham County hearing, referenced Nassar's statement from his November 22 plea deal that he wanted the community to heal when she also implored him to tell the truth.

"I only hope when you get a chance to speak, you tell us who knew what and when they knew it," Lorincz said. "If you truly want us to heal, you will do this for us."

Instead, Nassar merely read a short statement of apology. It is likely that attorneys will attempt to depose him in prison for the federal lawsuit.

Nassar is appealing his federal sentence through the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He is now represented by a court-appointed attorney as he filed his appeal in forma pauperis, meaning he is now indigent.

Many of the survivors of Nassar's abuse have stated that his sentencing has not ended the case, and that they are just getting started with the fight for justice in one of the worst sex abuse cases in history. In addition to multiple resignations at USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University over Nassar, pressure has continued to mount for U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun to resign. Multiple criminal and institutional investigations have begun in the matter, including two Congressional investigations.

 
Written by Amanda Turner    Thursday, 08 February 2018 05:00    PDF Print
World Cup Season Begins in Melbourne, Chicago
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)



The 2018 FIG World Cup season kicks off February 22-25 in Melbourne with an apparatus-only tournament, followed a week later by the American Cup in Chicago, the first of four all-around competitions this year. Pictured: Georgia-Rose Brown (Australia)

The 2018 FIG World Cup season kicks off later this month in Melbourne with an apparatus-only tournament, followed a week later by the American Cup on March 3 in Chicago, the first of four all-around competitions this year.

The Melbourne World Cup features a full roster of gymnasts from Australia and China. Japan is also sending four male gymnasts, including 2013 world pommel horse champion Kohei Kameyama. World champions Morgan Hurd (United States) and Kenzo Shirai (Japan) headline the 43rd American Cup.

The 2018 season is the busiest yet for the FIG, with a record 14 competitions across four continents from February to November. The spring schedule is so packed that apparatus and all-around World Cup events will take place simultaneously on back-to-back weekends in March. The 3rd AGF Trophy will return March 15-18 to Baku, while the 35th EnBW DTB-Pokal Cup takes place March 17-18 in Stuttgart. The 11th Doha World Cup will be held March 21-24 at the Aspire Dome — site of this fall's world championships — as the Birmingham World Cup takes place March 21-22 in England.

The overall winner of the four all-around competitions this spring — taking place in Chicago, Stuttgart, Birmingham and Tokyo — will again be a country rather than an individual gymnast. The same nations are invited to compete in each competition, and gymnasts will amass points for their respective countries based on their rankings.

2018 FIG World Cup Calendar
DateEventLocationType
February 22-252nd Melbourne World CupMelbourneApparatus World Cup
March 343rd American CupChicago, IllinoisAll-Around World Cup
March 15-183rd AGF TrophyBakuApparatus World Cup
March 17-1835th EnBW DTB-Pokal CupStuttgartAll-Around World Cup
March 21-22FIG World Cup Birmingham, EnglandAll-Around World Cup
March 21-2411th Doha World Cup DohaApparatus World Cup
April 14FIG World Cup TokyoAll-Around World Cup
May 24-27Grand Prix Osijek Žito Challenge CupOsijekApparatus World Challenge Cup
May 31-June 3FIG World Challenge CupKoperApparatus World Challenge Cup
June 14-17FIG World Challenge CupGuimarãesApparatus World Challenge Cup
July 6-8FIG World Challenge CupMersinApparatus World Challenge Cup
September 21-23FIG World Challenge CupSzombathelyApparatus World Challenge Cup
September 27-30FIG World Challenge CupParisApparatus World Challenge Cup
November 22-2543rd Turnier der MeisterCottbusApparatus World Cup

In the all-around series, Germany is the defending World Cup champions for the women, with Kim Bui taking second at the American Cup and Tabea Alt winning in Stuttgart and London last spring. Oleg Vernyayev led Ukraine to victory with a second-place at the American Cup and victories in Stuttgart and London as well. (Vernyayev, who has competed without a break since 2012, will be sitting out this year because of leg and shoulder injuries.)

Known as the AT&T American Cup since 2011, the tournament lost its title sponsor last month in more fallout from the Larry Nassar. USA Gymnastics is organizing the event without the help of AT&T, which joined Proctor & Gamble, Under Armour and Hershey's in canceling or not renewing their support for the troubled federation.

Neverthless, the competition has attracted an impressive field. Hurd will be joined by 2017 U.S. junior champion Maile O'Keefe, world floor exercise champion Mai Murakami (Japan), recent Elite Canada champion Brooklyn Moors, and Olympians Elisabeth Seitz (Germany) and Mao Yi. Along with O'Keefe, tricksters Fabiane Brito (2017 Brazilian junior champion) and Sanna Veerman (2017 Dutch junior all-around runner-up). British veteran Kelly Simm, a member of the bronze medal-winning team at the 2015 World Championships, rounds out the women's field.

Shirai, the world all-around bronze medalist and world champion on floor and vault, has said he is on a mission to stay among the top group of all-arounders in 2018. Reigning champion Yul Moldauer (United States) will attempt to defend his title in Chicago. His University of Oklahoma teammate Allan Bower, who took second to Moldauer at last year's U.S. championships, will be competing in his second all-around World Cup after finishing seventh last year in Stuttgart.

China's Sun Wei is slated for his third consecutive American Cup, finishing third in 2016 and seventh in 2017. Great Britain's James Hall, fifth last year in Stuttgart, will be making his American Cup debut. The lanky Petro Pakhnyuk, who returned to Ukraine last year after several years competing for Azerbaijan, is taking up the reigns in Vernyayev's absent as his country's top all-arounder. 2016 Olympian Francisco Barretto (Brazil) and 2017 world all-around finalists Philipp Herder (Germany) and Joel Plata (Spain) round out the men's field.

Seitz and Herder headline the Stuttgart World Cup along with three-time Olympian Marcel Nguyen. The strong lineup also includes Olympic gold medalist Yusuke Tanaka, British veteran Dan Purvis, Russian Olympians Angelina Melnikova and David Belyavsky, and Americans Jordan Chiles and Akash Modi.

The British gymnasts scheduled for the Birmingham World Cup were named on January 30, with the four gymnasts selected visiting a city school to make the announcement. European champion Ellie Downie will return to competition after missing last year's world championships with an injury. James Hall and 2016 Olympians Nile Wilson and Claudia Fragapane will also represent Great Britain at Arena Birmingham.

Melnikova, Nguyen, Pakhnyuk and Sun Wei will also be in Birmingham, alongside Russian Olympian Nikita Nagornyy, Japan's Hitomi Hatakeda and Americans Margzetta Frazier and Donathan Bailey.

The 2019-2020 World Cup circuit will serve as an individual qualifer to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

2nd Melbourne World Cup
February 22-25, 2018

Women's Competitors
Georgia-Rose Brown
Alexandra Eade
Georgia Godwin
Naomi Lee
Maddie Leydin
Rianna Mizzen
Isabel Barbosa
Chen Yile
Du Siyu
Li Qi
Liu Jinru
Aruna Budda Reddy
Pranati Nayak
Farah Ann Abdul Hadi
Yueh Tan Ing
Stella Ashcroft
Maia Fishwick
Estella Matthewson
Charlotte Ryan
Nadine Joy Nathan
Ng Le En
Zeng Qiyan
Tjaša Kysslef
Men's Competitors
Michael Mercieca
Mitchell Morgans
Christopher Remkes
Heath Thorpe
Michael Tone
Luke Wadsworth
Luís Porto
Gustavo Polato
Ge Shihao
Ma Yue
Tan Di
Weng Hao
Wu Guanhua
Wu Xiaoming
Matija Baron
Kristijan Vugrinski
Ashish Kumar
Rakesh Patra
Keisuke Asato
Kohei Kameyama
Hidetaka Miyachi
Kazuyuki Takeda
Danil Baturin
Yerbol Jantykov
Milad Karimi
Azizbek Kudratullayev
Nariman Kurbanov
Robert Tvorogal
Phay Xing Loo
Fu Jie Tan
Robert Honiball
David Bishop
Ethan Dick
Kyleab Ellis
Rafael Ablaza
Carlos Edriel Yulo
Aizat Bin Muhammad Jufrie
Hoe Wah Toon
Lim Kaeson
Tay Wei An Terry
Yeo Xong Sean
Sašo Bertoncelj
Rok Klavora
Lee Chih Kai

43rd American Cup
March 3, 2018, Chicago, Illinois

Women's Competitors
Fabiane Brito
Brooklyn Moors
Mao Yi
Kelly Simm
Elisabeth Seitz
Mai Murakami
Sanna Veerman
Morgan Hurd
Maile O'Keefe
Men's Competitors
Francisco Barretto
Sun Wei
James Hall
Philipp Herder
Kenzo Shirai
Joel Plata
Petro Pakhnyuk
Allan Bower
Yul Moldauer

35th EnBW DTB-Pokal Cup
March 17-18, 2018, Stuttgart

Women's Competitors
Rose-Kaying Woo
Zhang Jin
Georgia Mae Fenton
Elisabeth Seitz
Sarah Voss
Nagi Kajita
Naomi Visser
Angelina Melnikova
Jordan Chiles
Men's Competitors
Sun Wei
Dan Purvis
Marcel Nguyen
Philipp Herder
Yusuke Tanaka
Frank Rijken
David Belyavsky
Petro Pakhnyuk
Akash Modi

2018 Birmingham World Cup
March 21-22, Birmingham, England

Women's Competitors
Ellie Downie
Claudia Fragapane
Thaís Santos
Liu Jieyu
Sarah Voss
Hitomi Hatakeda
Vera van Pol
Angelina Melnikova
Margzetta Frazier
Men's Competitors
James Hall
Nile Wilson
Lucas Bitencourt
Sun Wei
Marcel Nguyen
Shogo Nonomura
Nikita Nagornyy
Petro Pakhnyuk
Donothan Bailey
 
Written by dwight normile    Tuesday, 06 February 2018 08:58    PDF Print
The Amazing Grace of Jordan Chiles
(13 votes, average 4.15 out of 5)

2017 national all-around silver medalist Jordan Chiles is featured in the March 2018 issue of International Gymnast.

The March 2018 issue of International Gymnast includes a feature titled "Amazing Grace." The story is about Jordan Chiles, an Oregon native who trains at Naydenov Gymnastics in Vancouver, Washington. But the title highlights Chiles' grace in gymnastics and also as a human being.

After placing second all-around at the 2017 P&G Championships in her first year as a senior, most people assumed she was on track to make the four-member U.S. women's team to the 2017 World Championships in Montreal. She was named an alternate instead.

Asked why she thought she didn't make the 2017 world team, Jordan's reply included no bitterness: "I don't really know … I really thought I did enough (at the selection camp). I am really happy for my friends, though. Every one of us works hard and deserved to go."

Jordan's mother, Gina Chiles, took the news harder than her daughter.

"The honest answer is we were very disappointed — any parent would be," Gina said. "As parents, we just want to see our kids happy, and making that team meant a dream realized."

Jordan, the youngest of five siblings, will have another chance. She's much too talented. She's one of the few American gymnasts who can vault an Amanar, and she blends powerful tumbling on floor exercise with fluid dance. She’s excellent and beam but considers bars her weak event because of her start value. She's wrong, though. She swings bars quite well.

Coached by Dimitri Taskov, who represented Bulgaria at the 1988 Olympics, and Tiffany Hirschberger, Chiles has a good thing going. She'll break through eventually. And even if she doesn't, her grace may lead her to even greater opportunities.

To subscribe to the print and/or digital edition or to order back issues of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

 
Written by Amanda Turner    Friday, 02 February 2018 20:19    PDF Print
Retrosi: It's Time to Say #ThanksCoach
(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)



As the gymnastics community struggles to pick up the pieces following the Larry Nassar tragedy — which revealed allegations of physical, sexual and psychological abuse by gymnastics coaches — a grassroots movement has begun to reshape the sport and its image.

As the gymnastics community struggles to pick up the pieces following the Larry Nassar tragedy — which revealed allegations of physical, sexual and psychological abuse by gymnastics coaches — a grassroots movement has begun to reshape the sport and its image. Coach and educator Tony Retrosi says it's time to recognize the tremendous work of the amazing gymnastics coaches who have influenced so many athletes in a healthy and positive way.

Retrosi, the head coach and owner of Atlantic Gymnastics Training Centers, started the "Thank You to my Gymnastics Coach" page on Facebook (Facebook.com/Thankscoach), because he wants to remind the public that the majority of gymnastics coaches shouldn't be lumped in with the kind who make headlines for harming athletes.

"With all the negative press, it just seemed like the right thing to do," Retrosi told IG on Friday. "There are so many great coaches out there who make a difference every day."

Retrosi is a frequent lecturer and has traveled around the world visiting clubs and teaching clinics. He was named Educator of the Year by USA Gymnastics in 2010.


1992 Olympian Wendy Bruce talks to young gymnasts.

Retrosi started the page on Thursday evening and it had several hundred fans by Friday morning. He started off the page with a shoutout to his own coaches. His very first coach was his mother, Denise Carlisle Edmonds, and he later trained with Jon Bean, Don Tonry and Kip Reed. The late Don Tonry, a long-time coach at Yale and 1960 Olympian, taught him tremendous technical knowledge, Retrosi said.

"I learned so much from all of you," he posted in tribute to his coaches.

The "survivors army" of 156 women who spoke at Nassar's first sentencing hearing in Ingham County, Michigan, stunned the world with horrific stories of sexual abuse by the once trusted doctor at USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University. Many of the gymnasts who gave victim impact statements shared heartbreaking tales of abusive conditions both at the club level and through the national team, which they say Nassar took advantage of, becoming a sympathetic figure who expertly groomed gymnasts, bringing them food and gifts and badmouthing their coaches, in order for the gymnasts to view him as a friend. Several of the gymnasts made allegations of physical and mental abuse against coach John Geddert, Nassar's long-time friend who has since been suspended by USA Gymnastics. Nassar was also the team doctor at Gedderts' Twistars in Michigan.

Among the most heartbreaking statements at the first sentencing hearing was from 2010 world team member Mattie Larson, who cried as she shared that she had purposely injured herself so she would not have to return to the Karolyi camp, the isolated U.S. national team training center she described as a prison, and where Nassar repeatedly abused an unknown number of gymnasts.

The public outrage and condemnation were swift, and USA Gymnastics was repeatedly cast as an enabler of sexual predators like Larry Nassar. The Indy Star's investigative piece into USA Gymnastics' failure to report sexual abuse led to the bombshell revelation about the team doctor who had quietly retired from USA Gymnastics in September 2015.

"The trail of human wreckage left by Larry Nassar may never be completely calculated," ESPN investigative reporter John Barr said.

World and Olympic champion Shawn Johnson shared her disgust, saying if she had a daughter, she would not put her in gymnastics because of what she called USA Gymnastics' utter failure to protect gymnasts from physical and sexual abuse.

Sports Illustrated writer Charles P. Pierce was the most brutal of all, comparing the horror of the sentencing to that of cannibal serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, which Pierce sat through in 1992. Pierce condemned the entire sport.

"American gymnastics is no longer a sport. It's a conspiracy of pedophiles and their enablers," he wrote on January 24, the day Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison.

All this has shocked and jolted the gymnastics community. News stations across the country have flocked to local gyms for their reactions, with many responding that they do not tolerate abuse and it's time to completely change the culture of the sport. Gyms are organizing their own fundraisers to help causes and wearing teal ribbons — the awareness ribbon to support sexual assault survivors — and teal clothes at meets to show support.

The movement to change the sport has begun at the club level, as many criticize USA Gymnastics' lack of leadership in this area. All major sponsors have fled USA Gymnastics, and its entire board was forced to resign by the U.S. Olympic Committee under threat of decertification. The organization is fighting off civil lawsuits and has been accused of a massive cover-up of Nassar, who continued to work as a physician in Michigan — and assault girls and women — until September 2016. USA Gymnastics continues to insist in legal briefs that it had no legal duty to warn anyone about Nassar after he left USA Gymnastics.

But throughout the tragedy, there have been moments of pride for gymnastics coaches. It was revealed that Maggie Nichols' personal coach, Sarah Jantzi, overheard Nichols talking at the Karolyi ranch about Nassar's "treatments." Jantzi immediately raised the alarm, reporting the abuse to both USA Gymnastics and Nichols' mother. Nassar never returned to the ranch and was dismissed from the national team, and USA Gymnastics' handling of the reports has come under massive scrutiny.

And in the Lansing courtroom, several of the survivors stood up with their former coaches by their side as their support. Tom Brennan, introduced as "Coach Tom," stared down Nassar and then confronted him with such force that the moment went viral. "Coach Tom" demanded that Nassar look at the survivor as she spoke, and then when invited to make his own statement, he spoke of his crushing guilt that he had referred nearly 100 gymnasts to Nassar. He then said that his pain was nothing compared with the women Nassar had assaulted, before tossing in, "For the record, Go to hell."

"Who is that?! He is speaking for all of us!" wrote one national team coach on social media while watching the live stream.

Brennan, who had considered Nassar a mentor and close friend, believed Rachael Denhollander, the first to publicly accuse Nassar, when she told him what Nassar had done. He called up all his former gymnasts to ask if they had also been abused.

Brennan was hailed as a hero by coaches watching the live stream, and by his former gymnasts, who shared stories of what a wonderful coach he had been. Multiple people called for Brennan, who accompanied five survivors at the hearing, to be appointed to the board of USA Gymnastics.

"This has all been a surreal experience," Brennan told IG. "The girls' bravery and resilience along with their tenacious desire for change have been inspiring."

Larson was one of many voices calling for change, saying, "There is a better way, a healthy way, to create champions."

The coaches who embrace a positive and supportive philosophy should be celebrated, Retrosi decided.

Canadian coach Andrea Seright of West Wind Gymnastics in Lethbridge, Alberta, knows Retrosi and invited many to like his page to support great gymnastics coaches.

"He's been my mentor for four years," Seright told IG. "He's an extraordinary coach."

Retrosi, who operates the gymnastics education website Gym Momentum, said he hoped he would make a difference in rebuilding the image of the sport.

"I'd love to see #ThanksCoach go viral," he said.

 


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