Today, I return to the land of the gymming…and almost wrote the year in the post title as 2015. So that’s where we are.
A. Gymnast Alliance Netherlands
The gymnast alliance is growing ever stronger, with the biggest news yesterday coming from the Dutch federation, which announced the surprisingly intense move of shutting down the women’s elite program while an investigation is launched.
So, what does this mean?
The elite gymnasts will still be able to train independently at their clubs, but national team activities—which means both camps and competitions—will be stopped indefinitely, and coaches Gerben Wiersma and Vincent Wevers are currently suspended from coaching as the federation investigates further action.
This is by far the most seriously we’ve seen any federation take accusations of coaching abuse. We don’t know what actually will come of it, but it’s quite the step. At the very least, it’s a signal to the athletes that their safety is being treated as the priority. Imagine if USAG had decided to shutter its entire WAG elite program to investigate after we found out about That Guy (or after the Dateline where Bela said he hit gymnasts in Romania, or after the Maggie Haney decision, or after, or after, or after). It never would have happened. The “what about the opportunities for the athletes” would have been too strong. (Well, actually the “what about my $$$$” would have been too strong, but it would have been presented as “what about the opportunities for the athletes.”)
And that concern over opportunities for the athletes certainly exists in this case as well. One hopes this doesn’t jeopardize the maybe-Olympics or maybe-Euros for the top Dutch women since it shouldn’t be their hopes that have to foot the bill for the mistakes of others. In the longer run, providing competition opportunities for the athletes shouldn’t have to be mutually exclusive with taking abuse seriously and investigating or reprimanding responsible coaches. Doing both should be possible, even if it means the Dutch Olympic Committee stepping in and doing the bare minimum to maintain major opportunities while the gymnastics federation is investigated.
In the short run, you’re not missing competition opportunities anyway, because there are none. Speaking of which…
B. Canceled Meets
In the latest development, November’s Cottbus World Cup has been canceled because of the everything. Back lifetimes ago, this was the first meet on the calendar I looked at and thought, “well maybe Cottbus will happen, because of November and Germany…” but alas no. The event director called it “not logistically or economically viable.”
Meanwhile, the rescheduled European Championships in Baku are still slated to take place a few weeks later. OK.
C. Gymnast Alliance Australia
The Australian Human Rights Commission will be reviewing how awful everyone was to the Australian gymnasts and in time publishing a report with recommendations for changes. Hopefully one of the recommendations will be: don’t just automatically pick a head coach from America because USAG coaching is not a role model.
In some ways, this kind of review sounds like what USAG did with the Daniels report, but hopefully there will be some more independence coming from a human rights commission. Though it remains to be seen how much access they’ll get and whether Gym Australia will commit to implementing the recommendations for changes or will just be like, “Thank you for your input goodbye.”
You can also hear from Alex Eade in the video below.
Meanwhile in Britain, gymnasts say the South Durham Gymnastics Club made everyone write burn book entries about Amy Tinkler after she decided to leave, and then when we found out about it, South Durham was like,
In this week’s episode, we discuss the cancellation of Svetlana Khorkina over being a heinous real-life sea monster, #GymnastAlliance in Belgium, and reflections on the Heavy Medals podcast.
Equality and…Not Equality – GymCastic: The Gymnastics Podcast
Basically, Khorkina said exactly what you'd think she would say, that gymnasts speaking out about abusive coaching are only looking for fame and attention (what is that they say about pots and kettles?), and also that it's the fault of democracy.
Or an international cabal of anti-Khorkina capitalist operatives who meet bimonthly in the Marianas Trench to conspire to deny her gold medals.
E. The Only Things Keeping Me Going
The queen's little note for Valentina from the Olympic Channel
Riley's double front 1/2 out