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Should the minimum age to compete in Olympic skating be higher?


Karen Chen, the American who finished 16th in the women’s event, explained this week how it would help young athletes, saying that when she was 15 or 16 she was completely different from the person she is now , at 22 years.

“I don’t know if robot is the right word, but my coaches would tell me to go do something and I would do it,” she said.

The word “robot” should send warning signals. Many young gymnasts in the Lawrence G. Nassar sex abuse case described themselves as robots who did what they were told, even if it was to try skills that could hurt them, or limit their intake of food and even water. They were also too afraid to question authority, even when mistreated. The transformation of these young women into machines controlled by adults nearly crushed the sport.

Nassar, the former United States national team doctor convicted of assaulting hundreds of girls and women under the guise of medical treatment, tapped into a system that propelled him as a trusted person.

“If you have athletes who are raised in an abusive reality, it’s not like a switch is flipped when you turn 17 and suddenly your distorted sense of reality and perception is eradicated” , Rachael Denhollander, the first athlete to publicly accuse Nassar of sexual abuse. , noted. “How old were some of Larry’s victims who, honest to God, believed they were receiving medical care because they were taught not to trust their own perceptions when they were just children? “

Some of these gymnasts were only 8 years old. Some were in their twenties.

“We have to be careful of the individuals and entities that are going to make raising the minimum age seem like an easy fix because they don’t want to dismantle the system and get rid of the people in power who are fueling the system. “, says Denhollander. “It needs a lot more work and a complete overhaul and people don’t want to do that work.”

She added that increasing age could be one piece of the puzzle, but says older figure skaters could still be abused because mature women will then be forced to remain as small and as thin as children. 15 year olds. In skating, lighter athletes have an easier time turning and jumping.

nytimes Gt

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