“As female gymnasts develop into elite competitors, they may receive regular assessments of body weight and body fat levels in order to maintain a lean, muscled physique.
“Female gymnasts typically consume diets low in energy, placing them at risk of inadequate nutrient intakes such as carbohydrates, calcium and iron.”
And that's why your Olympic gymnasts are dwarfs. Physically abused dwarfs.
For crying out loud, U.S. team member Ragan Smith is 16 years old — and 4-foot-6. She appears to be a perfectly proportioned 9-year-old. Team star Simone Biles is 19, a young adult. She’s 4-9.
What about the testimonies of past elite gymnasts who suffered or are suffering from brittle bones — osteoporosis, normally found in much older women — eating disorders, long-delayed menstrual cycles and a halt to puberty?
What kind of sport would allow such a toll on what reasonably should be naturally growing bodies? If these young women were farm animals or domesticated pets, protests would be long, loud and effective.
Why hasn’t NBC ever asked Bela Karolyi, imported from Romania to coach the U.S. women’s team, or his successor, wife Martha, to explain this trend toward tiny gymnasts?
NBC missed it again? Or is the regularly obvious, curious and highly suspicious just none of our business?
After all, NBC, by its own admission, gears its Olympic coverage toward women, so I suppose that means that women aren’t entitled to know why every Olympics the U.S. team appears to be selected from a group of pre-pubescent grammar-school girls.
Fabulous. That reads as if gymnasts are typically undernourished, which would explain why America’s “L’il Darlings,” every four years, are so little.
In 2008, HBO’s “Real Sports” interviewed Dominique Moceanu, who, at 14, was on the U.S. gold medal team in 1996. She claimed the Karloyis berated and humiliated her about her weight, and that Martha “grabbed me by the neck, shoving my face into the phone and telling me to call my parents when I hurt my neck in practice.”
Past U.S. team members Kristie Phillips and Erica Stokes complained about the Karolyis’ verbal and psychological abuse. Former members of Karolyi’s Romanian women’s teams accused him of physical abuse. Others have credited him for making them the best gymnasts they could be.
But what does “physical abuse” mean here? Aren’t girls in their early teens and younger who apparently put at risk their healthy, natural growth in order to make a sports team a problem? If we didn’t already know what the modern “Olympic Movement” is about — money by any means, especially U.S. TV money — we would ask how the IOC quietly suffers the continued diminution of world-class female gymnasts.
When did the race to present a team that looks underfed become a source of American sports financing, commercialization and pride?
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