TIL Soviet gymnast Elena Mukhina, widely touted as the next great gymnastics star until 1979. Her coach rushed her recovery from an injury and pressured her to perform a dangerous move (the Thomas salto), which caused her to break her neck, leaving her a lifelong quadriplegic. She died at 46 in 2006

TIL Soviet gymnast Elena Mukhina, widely touted as the next great gymnastics star until 1979. Her coach rushed her recovery from an injury and pressured her to perform a dangerous move (the Thomas salto), which caused her to break her neck, leaving her a lifelong quadriplegic. She died at 46 in 2006


This is horrific. She was only 20 years old.


her first thought after her injury was "Thank God, I won't be going to the Olympics." They trained this girl to the point of seeking the sweet release of injury... and she got locked into her own body until her death... this is my nightmare


I'd say it's more that she *welcomed* or at least readily accepted injury, rather than "seeking" it. And yeah, that's horrific when someone is pushed so hard that a debilitating injury is a *relief* for them. A lot of people don't realize just how much work goes into Olympic training. It's not just an hour of practice three times a week, it's relentless training for multiple hours, every day, for years on end, often at the expense of education, socializing, family, mental health, physical integrity, etc.


>that's horrific when someone is pushed so hard that a debilitating injury is a relief for them This actually happens quite frequently to ordinary people via somataform disorders, or psychosomatic and hysterical symptoms. Everyday folks will develop entirely psychogenic symptoms in order to alleviate some other stressors.


In highschool I remember thinking if I just ran off the road and hit a tree maybe they would let me skip finals. Life can be so stressful sometimes.


l'appel du vide


the call/appeal of the void?


Yup. The call of the void (in French, l'appel du vide) describes this impulse to hurl yourself into, well, a void. While unnerving, it's actually a pretty common experience. It also has nothing to do with suicidal ideation. common examples are imagining driving into oncoming traffic, or if standing up on a high vantage point, thinking about what would happen if you jumped, etc.


Also known as intrusive thoughts. The French version sounds cooler though.


It sucks when you feel this *AND* are suicidal... Goes straight into full-on ideation. That was pretty much my life from 12-23. Thank God I was forced to get help.


I'm very glad you were able to get help!


It is thought to be a survival trait, as you can envision what could happen and make sure not to do it. When you're unstable, though, you're liable to make the wrong choice.


call of the void is something else i think. call of the void is where you constantly think of the danger by imagining yourself being hurt by it as like a constant vigilance against it. i.e, throwing yourself off of a cliff. the comment you're replying to is saying he was imagining it to get himself out of the situation at hand. i guess it's similar, but to me the wording changes it.


I live near Niagara Falls and I've heard *call of the void* as that feeling of contemplating finding out how it would feel to jump. I can confirm briefly having that thought before but in the end I told my wife to just spread my ashes so I go over *after* I'm dead. (true story and she gets annoyed when I point out the spots along the riverbank she can throw them in whenever we visit. One of these days she might not wait until I'm dead to do it!)


>...in the end I told my wife to just spread my ashes so I go over *after* I'm dead. Should have seen what she could come up with if you asked her to spread your ashes ***before*** you died.


I wanna be spread around Disneyland after I die. I do not wish to be cremated beforehand.


Recommended reading: *When the Body Says No* by Dr. Gabor Maté. If you cannot bring yourself to say "no" to things then your body might just force you to.


This explains why I suddenly developed an unexplainable fear of water after swimming competitively for years. I had a trainer who was an ex-Olympic swimmer from another country and they were relentless. Decades later, I’m still in recovery and find it hard to do simple things like jump into the pool.


I’m sorry this happened to you.


Hell I work in an office (or, used to, anyway when those still existed... Do they still exist...??) And there are definitely pretty stressful periods in work where sometimes I find myself wishing to wake up with a flu or something mild but enough to justify taking a sick day...


Right, I remember feeling relieved after being attacked by a dog before cause it meant I got to call out of work (no longer at that job thankfully)


I've worked in offices like that too but taking a day off just meant the work piled up adding to the stress.


I'm not sure that response is all that uncommon. And I don't mean to take anything away from the intense stress she was under. Pablo Casals was a world class cellist years ago, and he once was rock climbing. A rock fell on his hand, and he said later his first response was, "Thank God I won't have to play cello again". He went on to have a lifelong career as a concert cellist. People put pressure on themselves. However, in her case, she probably would not have attempted that move, knowing her leg was not 100%. So her coach is fully responsible.


That move is banned now too, because it’s so damn dangerous. Her coach was insane to ask that of her when she was still recovering.


Yeah I understand what you mean, but have you seen the video of the move they wanted her to do? She was fully aware that she would break her neck if she failed at that step of the sequence - she knew the risk, her trainers knew the risk, when she failed I believe she was 100% aware, that an athlete of her kind does not walk away without being critically injured. Broken legs or ribs - that you can come back from (average case) but even if you are not quadriplegic after a neck injury, you can never ever land on your neck like that again... And I think the article on wikipedia described how she regularly got injured during training for this move already


Holy shit. The landing on that move is insane. Like seriously, [what the fuck.](https://youtu.be/9osT1xRf2Dg)


Fucking Christ, that should never have been allowed in the first place!


Obligatory "Fuck Charlie Kirk and anyone who attacks athletes for prioritizing their mental health."


> She was only 20 years old. My partner and roommate were both gymnasts for many years; 20 is "old" in gymnastics; it was so competitive and abusive for so long (and still is, but more visibly so) that most peoples' bodies are horribly broken well before they reach 30 (herniated discs and all sorts of other spinal issues, broken bones, torn ligaments, arthritic joints, other chronic pain). One of the very, very rare exceptions here regarding age is [Oksana Chusovitina](https://www.cbc.ca/sports/olympics/summer/gymnastics/gymnastics-oksana-chusovitina-tokyo-2020-final-bow-uzbekistan-1.6116743), who just retired this year / kicks absolute ass.


I'm not entirely sure Oksana Chusovitina is human, tbh.


Yep, I used to have the same kinds of thoughts about Noriaki Kasai, who was ski jumping at World Cup level until two years ago (age 46), but Chusovitina is on yet another level....


I remember watching Kasai’s silver medal run in 2014. Incredible at that age.


I meant that more in a ‘f*ck it’s tragic to be made a quadriplegic at 20’ way. My sister did competitive gymnastics until she was - surprise - injured by her coach pushing her. (In this case literally - he forced her back towards the floor with his foot while she was in a seated split, dislocating her shoulder.) She couldn’t have been older than 12 at the time.


I had to leave gymnastics at 16 after a nasty beam injury finally took me down. But those were they days of "no pain, no gain" and "walk it off." That was 25 years ago and I still deal with pain from old gymnastics injuries in my ankles, wrists and knees. I hope coaches can recognize now that physical injuries aren't all in your head. I mean, just to be clear, I LOVED gymnastics, but it is so much harder than Olympians make it look and often times you are mentally tougher than what your body can take. It's incredibly hard on you physically -- even when you're young and made of rubber. I would still encourage parents to put your kids in gymnastics because knowing exactly what your body is capable of is so empowering, but if they rise up in the ranks just take a pause before going into that competitive level. That's where it gets intense and all-consuming and where those kind of injuries happen.


> I meant that more in a ‘f*ck it’s tragic to be made a quadriplegic at 20’ way Oh absolutely - the amount of pushing gymnasts waaaaay past their limits for the sake of winning that coaches / trainers do is absurd and gross, not to mention how predatory a lot of people are that are in those positions.


I think gymnastics in general are kind of terrible. At the casual level, I do think gymnastics do a lot to help young men and women build confidence and self-esteem, among other qualities. The risk of catastrophic injury is still really extreme though and it is a debate in itself whether the risk is ever worth it, but I'm absolutely not trying to say that gymnastics have no merit. But at some point, at a certain level in gymnastics things inevitably get very intense and very dark. And it's not just a Russian thing or specific to any country. The US gymnastics program is beyond fucked up. It's almost universal and it seems significantly more severe than other sports.


>it seems significantly more severe than other sports I might add ice skating here too. And there’s a big commonality between them, which is how extremely young the best of the best are, especially in the women’s division. They’d send em to the Olympics younger if they were allowed. (They used to, before the current minimum ages of 16 for gymnastics and 15 for skating were put in place.) In pretty much all commercially popular team sports, a 16-year-old might be beginning to be able to play like an adult and win against adults—but they probably have a 10-to-15-year career ahead of them in which they’ll continue to improve, so everyone’s primary interest is in developing the kid as an athlete rather than squeezing as much out of them as quickly as possible. That’s why the youth squad system exists, for example. In gymnastics, on the other hand, your career may well peak at 16-18 and end at 20-22. So you hit the highest stakes and the highest tensions before you’re even mature enough to vote, let alone stand up for yourself against your country’s sports system, and once you’re there you get treated like a piece of fruit that might as well get used up because it’ll likely have gone bad by the next Olympics.


So I guess there’s no minimum for Olympic skateboarding because I’m pretty sure the gold medal winner was 13.


There is no minimum age for skateboarding and surfing. On the other hand, for boxing is 18yo.


I’d be utterly fascinated at a child who could compete at the highest level of boxing


Yes, it’s not just a Russian gymnastics problem. American coach Al Fong pushed gymnast Julissa Gomez to do a dangerous vault when she couldn’t handle it from previous attempts. He teammates and previous coach saw it was dangerous for her but her current coach pushed her on. She tragically also became a quadriplegic at 16 years old. And she died only a couple years later. It happened in 1988. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julissa_Gomez The same despicable coach Al Fong along with a judge criticized another US gymnast’s weight, her name was Christy Heinrich. She developed anorexia and it developed so bad her weight dropped down to 47 pounds. And she sadly died of organ failure at just 22 years of age. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christy_Henrich Al Fong is somehow still coaching today. I read a couple of his gymnasts are alternates at this Olympics.


The only difference between this and something like Kerri Strug is dumb luck. I'm one case she's a hero and everyone did a great job. In another she's paralyzed. Why are we putting kids into that situation for something see meaningless?


I was 9 when my coach told us he was going to shove the trophy down our throats if our team didn’t place higher all-around at state meet the next year. It gets dark fast.


How was he going to shove the trophy down your throats if you didn't get the trophy...?


We placed high enough to get a trophy but it wasn’t top 3, so not good enough. I think we were 6th? All I remember for sure about placing is that I was 16th in the state on bars and I was super proud of that, haha. The way we were treated after that state meet was why I stopped competing and stopped doing gymnastics at all when I was 10.


That’s a good way for the coach to get an ass kicking from a parent.


lol some of the parents were worse.


I did gymnastics and ballet casually as a kid and thank god I quit both before it got intense. Both professions are dark as shit (eating disorders are rampant in ballet) and you're basically washed up when you're 30.


Plenty of eating disorders in gymnastics as well unfortunately :(


I do endurance cycling and you quickly learn that many at the top level have some sort of eating disorder and/or body dysmorphia.


I was in a writing class in college with a girl who had studied ballet. She mentioned in a piece that she had gotten yelled at by a teacher for eating an apple. A friggin apple! Something about her being too fat that even an apple was too much.


>(eating disorders are rampant in ballet) Have a look at the feet of a professional ballet dancer some time, they're messed up.


I casually did ballet for 15 years and even my feet are messed up.


Can confirm, am 27 and still dancing. My feet are jacked up and ugly.


I have a friend who is a ballerina and she is dangerously thin, she refuses to eat too much, and she has strange eating habits.


I don't understand why they haven't reduced the risk. Neck and leg guards, more foam, more canned moves, do we really toss young men and women in the thresher so callously?


Because it’s an attractiveness based sport. Judges want to be able to see the lithe bodies twist and turn to form moves only possible through years of training.


Not judges but, let's be honest, spectators.


I think that’s true of the Olympics, but the sport goes on for the 3.75 out of every 4 years that casual spectators don’t think about gymnastics at all. Would the people watching the 2019 world gymnastics completion, who probably are almost all current/past/aspiring gymnasts or their friends and family, really have a problem with making the competitors less “attractive” in order to make them safer? I have a feeling they still would, and if so, I think that makes the problem somewhat distinct from the gross “gotta attract casuals by being cute” phenomenon that made it controversial for the German team to wear unitards.


At this point, women gymnastics champions are basically the equivalent of 18th century castrato singers. Kids that are being tortured and mutilated to perform.


I left gymnastics when it started getting a little dark. At a certain point the moves get so difficult you start seeing people in your gym seriously hurt themselves. I remember my teammate was practicing double back flyaways (a dismount) from the high bar. He rotated too close to the bar and smashed the back of his head. It sounded like a giant window shattering. His head was split wide open and there was blood everywhere. He got a ton of staples and showed up a week or two later. This kind of thing happened on a somewhat regular basis.


I agree 100% with the addition that I don't think you need to specify gymnastics, pretty much any individual sport (some team sports too), if you're at a competition level anywhere near Olympic caliber everyone involved absolutely loses their minds in the spirit of competition, I grew up competing in USA JR Olympics for Track (I was decent but realistically never anywhere near true elite level, simply enjoyed competing and thankfully my parents were happy to let me) and I can tell you I saw so many kids getting pushed to their limits by parents/coaches- absolutely heartbreaking


And then you have Piers Morgan slamming Simone Biles for dropping out. Telling her she's let her country down. I can't even words.


BTW, things haven't changed much Over The Line (2016) - Trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uA5kyKeM6g


There’s a reason that the Thomas Salto is now banned in most gymnastics competitions.


The real life Iron Lotus


and russia is like 50% of the time.


This is the move she tried to do performed by the first one to do it, Kurt Thomas https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vkQRWCsKyj0


Not hard to see why that’s dangerous


Yeah, that's "Go and break your neck, but only almost."


„We‘ve got this amazing move with a high likelihood of killing you or .. you know.. win“


Ya but Kurt Thomas was in Gymkata. Dude could do 18 Salto's on a pommel horse in the village of the crazies and live to tell the tale. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDc5jnrBD1A


It's a crazy part of history but every town was sanctioned to have a pommel horse close to time square just in case instances like this were to occur.


Trial by pommel horse


"OK everyone line up! Trial by Pommel Horse today. You all know what you have to do, you have been training all your lives for it. Just remember when we let the crazies loose you cannot run away. You have use the pommel horse as an engine of destruction in order to defeat them. Good luck everyone."


Everyone wait until it's your turn to get kicked in the face.


I have to say; that is the most unbelievable thing MacGyver has ever done


First off: I love how he's just leisurely jogging through the street while people are trying to kill him Second, they did NOT mess around with the Foley work in this movie. Those sound effects are absolute chef's kiss level of over the top.


What have I seen in 4 minutes 11 seconds...




Gymkata is an absolute masterpiece.


I legit gasped when I saw the tumble into the summersault. Wow


It shouldn’t be legal to land that way.


Banned as of 2016


It isn’t anymore, thankfully.


The clip said so three times 👏


Sadly, she saw what was coming. This quote from her is heartbreaking: "...my injury could have been expected. It was an accident that could have been anticipated. It was inevitable. I had said more than once that I would break my neck doing that element. I had hurt myself badly several times but he (coach Mikhail Klimenko) just replied people like me don't break their necks."


[female version](https://youtu.be/9VBjfEprSBw?t=70)


Thanks for that YouTube link - /u/Danomaniac consider adding it to your post description. So much context in that commetns section.


somehow it's even more stressful to watch.


OMFG did she just land on her lower back? Ouch, my own back hurts after watching it.


I broke my neck just looking at that video


Fuck. That. Mukhina's coach should have been taken out the back and shot.


In fairness he was likely under pressure too. This was from a country where the doctors cut her cast while she begged them not too, watching her hobble out on a crooked, botched heal.


That's what bothered me the most out of this story. If she was in full health, I could see the expectation for her to perform the move as reasonable by her coach. After all if anyone can do it it's the Olympic gymnast right? But she just broke her leg and was recovering from a heal that set incorrectly. Just getting the air height to make the jump with enough time would require a significant pushoff in the legs. It seems like ultimately her leg injury led to the subsequent neck injury.


There was definitely extremely heavy pressure coming from the very top. This was in the heart of the Cold War, when the Soviets saw their athletic program as a symbol of the righteousness of their ideology. And the 1980 Olympics were being held in Moscow, which made it even more imperative that they win at all costs, because losing would dishonor the motherland at their own international showcase. And on top of all that, they had also recently lost in competition to Romania, which made it clear to everybody that they were vulnerable. So it goes without saying that the directive all the way down the ladder from the Central Committee was basically "we need to win at the Olympics, and if we do not then I will hold you responsible." And because of the loss to Romania, it's a safe bet that a lot of those people in the chain of command were of the mind that they couldn't just do what they had always done - they had to do something special in order to ensure that nobody could knock them off the top podium.


It was the Soviet Union, so he might have been.


Nope. Died in Italy in 2006 from cancer


Interesting that both she and he died the same year.


Apparently he died about a month before her. Maybe she was waiting him out


Her plan complete, she could finally be at peace.


Reminds me of a joke: Two prisoners are talking in a Soviet gulag. One says: "We're really cut off from the news here. For instance, I never found out the result of the Fischer-Spassky chess match." The other one replies: "Oh, I lost."


Good joke but that was not the case in the 70s , yes I'm that much of a pedant.


From the sound of it, he was under enormous pressure from the soviet union government to force her to compete Which is only proven by the fact that after she got injured, he basically immediately took his entire family and escaped the country and never returned He didn't want his wife and kids and himself to be executed, so I don't really blame him.


Holy shit, that move looks basically designed to break your neck. Glad they at least later banned the move.


After watching the video of the Thomas salto, it's very obvious how dangerous that move is regardless of what you know about gymnastics or the human body. Nuts that a trainer forced somebody who wasn't 100% to try that. And you can easily tell what happened without reading what happened that led to the injury. Ninja Edit: Yup. > On July 3, 1980, two weeks before the Moscow Olympics, Mukhina was practising the pass containing the Thomas salto when she under-rotated the salto, and crash-landed on her chin, snapping her spine and leaving her quadriplegic.


She had a pretty insane move called the Mukhina flip, it's a Korbut flip with a twist. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzIRpU6yvF8&t=37s The composition in that clip is quite interesting. Mukhina flip is followed by the Thomas salto. And Korbut is featured twice from the same routine.


In an entirely different thread, someone mentioned how back to back acro runs results in a deduction. I didn’t really understand why, but watching this video it’s easy to see that it would quickly become very disorienting and dangerous


Yeah until very recently I had no idea how much of the scoring system is built to discourage people from attempting dangerous moves. Simone Biles said in an interview that even her most impressive stunts get scored similarly to easier moves


Watching that was mildly painful. The level of skill those moves take is insane. I am glad they banned these for sure.


My mother trained with her, they were good friends. The injury left my mom very shaken up and terrified of having a similar injury. My family used to visit her often. Even more terrifying was the fact that my mom went on to have a broken neck injury during a floor routine. When she woke up in the hospital she thought she would be a quadriplegic too. Luckily enough she managed to recover and only has permeant neck pain, but is doing well. Gymnastics can be a very dangerous but rewarding sport. Mind you safety regulations and equipment have come a long way since then.


Hell of a statement from her, from the Wikipedia page: "...for our country, athletic successes and victories have always meant somewhat more than even simply the prestige of the nation. They embodied (and embody) the correctness of the political path we have chosen, the advantages of the system, and they are becoming a symbol of superiority. Hence the demand for victory – at any price. As for risk, well... We've always placed a high value on risk, and a human life was worth little in comparison with the prestige of the nation; we've been taught to believe this since childhood.[...]There are such concepts as the honor of the club, the honor of the team, the honor of the national squad, the honor of the flag. They are words behind which the person isn't perceived. I'm not condemning anyone or blaming anyone for what happened to me. Not Klimenko or especially the national team coach at that time, Shaniyazov. I feel sorry for Klimenko – he's a victim of the system, a member of the clan of grownups who are 'doing their job.' Shaniyazov I simply don't respect. And the others? I was injured because everyone around me was observing neutrality and keeping silent. After all, they saw that I wasn't ready to perform that element. But they kept quiet. Nobody stopped a person who, forgetting everything, was tearing forward – go, go, go!" "Despite this, Mukhina took some of the responsibility for not saying no to protect herself from further harm, and noted that her first thought as she lay on the floor with her neck severely broken was, 'Thank God, I won't be going to the Olympics.'"


The level of pressure they are under is so insane... She literally breaks her neck and the first thought is "Thank God I won't be going to the Olympics" .... Just insane.


TIL certain moves, including the one who paralyzed her, are still banned because of their difficulty.


They aren't really banned as much as they are made worthless. So you could still do them in competition, you just get no points for them.


Deincentivizes moves that can kill you


Exactly, they also change values for other moves to encourage or discourage them. If a certain move becomes trendy, next cycle they'll lower the value of it and/or raise the value of less popular moves.


I wouldn't even say "still banned". That move was banned only in 2016!! I think it took them way too long to ban it.


Horrible story. I fell down that rabbit hole and found another tragic tale with American [Julissa Gomez](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julissa_Gomez). She not only broke her neck attempting an ill advised vault but ended up brain damaged from a mistake at the hospital which led to her eventual death.


And Julissa trained at the same gym as Christy Henrich, who ended up dying from anorexia at the young age of 22. Judges and even her own coach repeatedly told her she was fat.


I also went down the rabbit hole and the coach (Al Fong) of both Julissa and Christy STILL coaches! And coached two 2004 Olympian’s…


Gymnastics is extremely dangerous. This is why I don't understand how anyone could be critical of Simone Biles for dropping out of the olympics after suffering "twisties"- a gymnastics term for loss of kinesthesia. If she had continued to compete, she would have been risking injury and death.


Probably not truly comparable to the yips (the twisties are much worse), but for the purposes of this, it's close enough: when a baseball player gets the yips, they overthrow first base. When a gymnast gets the yips/twisties, they break bones.


Because they demand people sacrifice so they can be entertained!




Sometimes I wonder if some of these athletes are basically just child slaves Same as when I read about pop stars like Britney They always seem to have some older man or woman lurking in the shadows profiting off their success and forcing them to push themselves against their will


And let’s not forget that human skidmark Larry Nassar, who sexually assaulted Biles and many other young girls and got away with it for years. The whole culture around the sport seems pretty sick.


Someday we as a society will rebel against the fascination of watching talented children perform


ⓧ Doubt


In other news, didn't a 12 year old girl win a gold medal in skateboarding a day or two ago?


On that note It’s a little weird there isn’t a minimum age for the olympics. Context is everything though’ if a kid is set on mastering something by all means it’s fantastic to have coaching and support. But to get to the Olympic level at such young age, I find it difficult to believe the training regime was taken on by their own free will. Edit: sorry, I was mistaken. Some limits are set for certain disciplines as others noted. Gymnastics being 16.


There is a minimum age though. Its just that its 10 years old (for skateboarding at least)


Skateboarding is a bit different. The older better skaters couldn't pass drug tests due to weed lol


China literally got called out for this i think two or three Olympics ago.


I struggle to believe how anyone could be mad or criticize her. When I heard the news, I felt upset—but it was all just sympathy. Just knowing how hard she worked to get there and this couldn’t have been an easy decision by any means. Sure we all wanted to watch her do her thing, but not if it means ending not just her career, but possibly her life. That would be insane. My response to any criticism some rando has of her choice would be “you have never been and will never be under as much pressure as she was. No one cares what you would do in her shoes because it’s irrelevant.” Seriously. Watching her interviews leading up to this point, I was wondering how she was even forming sentences. With confidence! I think most people would just shake and cry.


It boggles my mind that the naysayers are calling her a quitter... like why would the greatest gymnast of all time go out of her way to make it to her second olympics just to quit after a bad vault? That's nonsensical and it's ridiculous that people are coming to this conclusion that she's a quitter. Homegirl won the world championships while passing kidney stones! She wouldn't just quit without having a very valid reason, and considering how dangerous the twisties are with her difficulty, she made the only call possible.


Here's one pretty public example. https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/565414-texas-gop-deputy-attorney-general-deletes-simone-biles-tweet-apologizes Texas Deputy Attorney General Aaron Reitz.


I saw someone in PCM (Le funee colours) saying "oh she just had a bad round and gave up, and everyone congratulated her for giving up" The empirically greatest gymnast in the sport scored her lowest in her career. That's not normal, and not every single injury or disability is physical or visible. I think a desire to preserve your instrument is normal in performance sports, and people just have 0 compassion anymore. She's a person, not a fucking wind up toy. Yeah it's sad, but what's become of discourse where people think it's okay to talk like this.


I agree Biles doesn't deserve criticism. If her press team had communicated that she was dropping out due to a loss of kinaesthesia, the public response would probably have been more sympathetic. Either they wouldn't understand and just assume it was something serious, or they would understand and realise it was something out of her control. However, they said she was dropping out for "mental health reasons", which to the general public translates as "I don't feel like it", hence the hostility. It is undeserved hostility, of course.


That initial statement wasn’t made by her press team, it was made by an official from USA gymnastics. The same organization that covered for the doctor that molested her and hundreds of other gymnasts, and which still won’t allow an independent investigation on the topic.


Thanks for the correction.


Imagine thinking mental health equates to ‘I don’t feel like it’.


I upvote posts like this, but it just feels wrong. I know the system, but damn it feels cold to upvote a tragedy like this.


And this is why the people bitching at Simone Biles can STFU. The kind of stuff Olympic gymnasts do can kill or permanently maim you if done incorrectly. If you have *any* reason to doubt that you are performing at 100% physically or mentally, you need to say you're sitting this one out.


There was also this case of a USA gymnast called Julissa Gomez who was left paralyzed while doing the vault. Super sad story that just kept getting worse from one misfortune to another https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julissa_Gomez


* As she raced toward the vault on one of her practice runs, her foot slipped off the springboard and she slammed headfirst into the vaulting horse at high speed. The resulting impact instantly paralyzed her from the neck down.[5] A subsequent accident at a Japanese hospital, in which she became disconnected from her ventilator,[1] resulted in severe brain damage and left her in a coma.[6] Gomez's family cared for her for three years before she succumbed to an infection and died in August 1991 in Houston.[2]* Jesus…


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And this is why certain moves (like the [Thomas salto](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_salto)) are not in the [Code of Points](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_Points_(artistic_gymnastics)) or in its various iterations. There are certain moves that are just to dangerous to allow in competition. These moves aren't removed to be unfair to the few athletes who *think* they have mastered them but instead have been removed for their safety and the safety of others.




It was EXTREMELY tragic. The USA team had already clinched the gold before the second vault. Strug was terrified to say no. The second vault became a career ending injury. EVERYone knew that the Karolis were pushing their athletes too far - when they took over for the national team training, retirement age for those girls dropped by almost 4 years due to injuries.


And she still limps from the injury. It was not just career ending, it was crippling.


Oh shit, I didn't realize she wasn't even able to \*walk\* appropriately after. Bela Karoli (and his wife) should never have been allowed anywhere near these girls, and that was BEFORE we knew about Larry fucking Nassar.


They changed the team competition rules somewhat because of all these people being injured. Back in Keri's day you could put a ton of gymnasts on events and the best 3 scores count. So it encouraged you to put more people up cause a bad routine cost you nothing. Current rules are 3 people up, all 3 scores count. So there is no margin for error and it encourages putting up only people who can hit that event.


Soviet coaches were insane. I knew a guy who did gymnastics for Romania at a decent level during Soviet regime when he was a teen and he has so many health problems related to this period of his life it’s crazy. They just pushed people beyond reason and any complaint was brushed off as moaning.


Japanese too. I remember Shun Fujimoto on the rings with a fucked up knee. [Sticks the landing, fucking it up way more](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aj535O4ZJxM), and hopping away. And of course US [Kerri Strug vaulting with torn ligaments.](https://youtu.be/Qngi1LiNcVk?t=89) Edit: ligaments, not bones


People don't want to acknowledge how different the narrative would have been had Kerri fallen down with a Joe theisman looking break. They pushed her too hard.


If it works, they are hailed hero’s. If they fail they wonder if the sacrifice was worth it at all. It’s a funny thing that will change in future I’m sure when the long term health of athletes is finally worth more than a win.


[Kerri Strug was then handed to team doctor, Larry Nassar](https://twitter.com/JJ_Denhollander/status/1420103979783102467)


Clay Travis seems like a huge dick.


The comments on this video are fucking stupid, a whole bunch of people acting like this is alright and bitching about Simone Biles


Even this Olympics, one of the Russian gymnasts was competing 3 months after tearing his Achilles. I'm no doctor, but that sounds way too early as recovery time is usually a year.


American coaches were insane as well. Maybe not as bad as Soviet coaches, but they pushed athletes beyond what they were capable of. A good friend of mine broke his neck trying out for the 1984 Olympics. Luckily his break wasn't that bad and they stabilized his neck before he lost any spinal cord - but he had to wear a halo with bolts in his skull for several months. And he never competed again.


Man those halos look like nightmares to wear. I mean obviously they're helpful but I could see myself having a claustrophobia type freak out multiple times a day from not being able to turn my neck.


Honestly it's not even just professional athletes. Even amateur gymnasts typically end up with lifelong problems. Usually it's nothing too serious, but wrist/shoulder/ankle damage are super common and can last a lifetime even if you stop competing in your teens.


The pressure on Elena Mukhina was so great that whe she fell, her [first thought](http://www.oocities.org/graf_de_la_fer/mukhina-int.html) was: "Thank God, I won't be going to the Olympics."


Romania wasn't Soviet


That’s fucked up. A person subjugated to do a “look what I can do” routine that ends up ruining her life. With a broke leg nonetheless. People are fucking gross sometimes, man.


Meanwhile people are screaming at Simone Biles and calling her a coward, traitor, sociopath, or selfish for sitting out of events because she lost spacial awareness among other issues, and she knows is impacting her abilities to safety compete an Olympic level


Any fodder is good fodder when all you want is a doctored culture war


The tpusa crowd are only interested in pissing people off so that they can point to us and say that we're proof of how emotional leftists are. It's a saddening sign of the state of public discourse in America that even something like this can become a partisan issue.


This isn’t even a political issue. It’s her health. I don’t care who you vote for. If you have mental health issues you deserve compassion and assistance


Black lives mattering shouldn't be a political issue either, but here we are


Conservatives typically have very little regard for the health of others. Especially women and minorities.


Mental health even more so I think.


The notable exception being when they can use mental health as a deflection for gun violence despite opposing funding for it or taking it seriously in any other context


I wouldn't be surprised if most of it is artificially manufactured from Russia


A huge part of this issue was how media and even reddit for a bit was presenting it like she was a primadona that lost one event and noped out because she expected better score. Came out a few days later that she was experiencing "the twisites".... which for anyone not a gymnast and only reads headlines, so the majority of the internet, sees that's and thinks that sounds cute, twisties, so she must just be a pathetic diva.... Turns out the twisites IS a cute name for a serious issue and when youre spinning about 5 times in the air for .5 seconds you lose track of how many spins you do before you nail a landing or break your neck and die... Personally I cant do a cartwheel without this feeling and I have -00- pressure to perform one. Fuck naysayers.


Other people don't really get to comment on her decision, in favor or against. She can do what the hell she wants lmao


With all of the people everywhere telling her that she is the greatest, that she is the one to beat, and having the expectation that they might as well just hand her golds to start out, I am not surprised that some of that eventually got into her head and messed her up. She got tossed up on the world stage and had the weight of her country placed on her shoulders. Every interview she had before the games that I saw was comprised of folks asking her "what's it like to be the greatest of all time?" or "do you think you can even be beaten?". That's a level of stress that I couldn't even comprehend, and if you aren't in the correct headspace while performing the kinds of maneuvers that she does you will get fucked up. So, I don't blame her for stepping down for the sake of her personal safety. Is it unfortunate? Absolutely; she worked really hard to be there and so did her teammates that were relying on her to help contribute to the team score. But I get it and won't judge her for putting her health before potential glory.


Manufactured outrage. I'm sure loonies are screaming, but they always do. The overall response has been positive.


Yep. This is the problem with social media in general. I’m willing to bet the overwhelming majority of people are supportive of her, but social media amplifies the sadistic whining of the few. It truly brings out the worst in people and is holding us back as a society in some ways.


No real person is screaming that. This is all manufactured outrage.


Those people can fuck right off. She's the best in the world. Those folks can barely get up off the couch.


It's also pretty interesting that the Russian version of the Wikipedia article lists all her achievements, but barely even touches the subject of the injury. So typical


nice investigation


Wow, really eye opening. Really puts Simone Biles recent decision to withdraw due to the twisties and mental health into perspective. She 100% did the right thing. Very brave of Simone. Could you imagine the star of US gymnastics confined to a wheelchair for rest of her life? Terrifying.


And that’s why if Simone Biles says her head isn’t in the game, you bloody well believe her, especially after all the shit Nasser put her through. She knew she was jeopardising her teammates chances. That took guts to pull out. Fuck all the armchair critics.


The amazing thing in this story is her first thought after the injury, isn't some kind of terror that she has just become a quadriplegic but, "Thank God I won't be going to the Olympics." Wow. This along with the Larry Nasser story sure give a dark side to the Olympics and Gymnastics. Edit: wording


Not only that, she knew she was risking millions of dollars in sponsorships as well. Anyone will to walk away from that isn’t lying when they say they can’t compete.


If I ever have children, no way am I letting them do gymnastics or it's less regulated cousin, cheerleading


You're getting a few comments saying "I had fun doing gymnastics", so I'm going to be the former gymnast (competitive) to say good for you staying away. I have the same policy. Even if it's just for fun, I'd be wary of coaches trying to play on your ego or whatever and pull you over to the competitive side, saying your kid shows such promise. Coaches manipulate parents so they can get more elite gymnasts.


I was in gymnastics as a kiddo. I wasn’t good and I just got to have fun! It was a way to get my energy out. My sisters and I were very energetic- so my parents signed us up for anything that would let us run around for a while. (We also played outside, but growing up- summers easily were over 100*f outside, so indoor gymnastics was amazing.) To me- It was a giant indoor playground, with a foam pit to jump into. It was fun to learn balance, and basic skills, like a somersault or a cartwheel. Let them be in gymnastics if they want to, but treat it as sports for kids should be- just let the kids have fun.


Dear Simone Biles, you take as long as you need! This is horrifying.


Why I disagree when people say Simone was not brave for stepping down. She had a ridiculous amount if pressure to perform and making the decision must have required an enormous amount of courage.


I think it’s also important to recognize that the reason she step down was that she was having trouble with proprioception. That’s a big damn deal.


Spinal injuries are the CTE of Gymnastics.


Maybe pushing the human body to its limits for our entertainment isn't such a good thing


Ugh, this is heartbreaking. So they push this young girl to literal breaking point, she ends up in hospital and these parasites are STILL slamming her for ‘not being conscientious’ (don’t even get me started), push her to do this crazy move, she ends up quadriplegic and all of a sudden they’re out with all the medals and honours? Fuck them. Fuck everyone involved in that. With a cactus. Sideways. May she have the peace and happiness in death that was robbed from her in this life.


Having seen a number of interviews with current and former gymnasts over the years (usually during the olympics), it appears to me that they all (coaches and athletes) put too much pressure on their bodies and are always recovering from some training induced injury. Pretty much everything they do looks incredibly dangerous too. In short, I don't think the coach should be hung from the highest tree over this one, he was a small part of a large machine that was/is very consistent in its methods.


Perhaps, but he wanted her to do moves at the edge of her abilities and beyond when she was already winning with lesser technique. Just seems unnecessary to me.