For Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman, the choice not to take part in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo was not a straightforward one.
“It’s true I’m not going to be competing in Tokyo,” Raisman wrote in a letter she posted to social media on Tuesday, “but seeing it characterized as such a simple decision really caught me off guard.”
For Raisman, a Needham native, her Olympic aspirations started at a younger age after watching VHS tapes of the 1996 Olympics. In her letter, she reflected on what she would inform her youthful self trying again, and what her mission is transferring ahead.
“One of the best things about being a kid is the belief that anything is possible, and that no dream is too big,” she wrote. “I think about what I’d say to her now.”
She recounts how these desires of standing on the Olympic podium got here to fruition when she received two gold medals on the 2012 Olympics in London for the workforce and ground train occasions and a bronze for the stability beam. She then went on to win a gold medal for the workforce occasion on the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, in addition to two silver medals for the all-around and the ground train.
“I envision her eyes lighting up and a smile spreading across her face as she learns she will one day be like those gymnasts she watched on TV,” she wrote.
Still, Raisman grappled with how she would inform her youthful self concerning the “tough times” she confronted from the folks “who will fail to protect” her and her teammates. In 2018, she testified in opposition to ex-USA Gymnastics and Michigan State physician Larry Nassar, who’s serving consecutive sentences for baby pornography and sexual assault. Raisman, an advocate for sexual assault survivors, additionally sued USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee, and has since known as for an unbiased investigation of each organizations.
In her letter, she reassures her youthful self of her personal power to get via such a tough time.
“I would tell her that in our darkest hours, when we feel most vulnerable and alone, that we realize our greatest growth.”
Her mission now could be to make the game safer for athletes.
“As a little girl, I thought what mattered most was making it to the Olympics, but I’ve learned that my love for gymnastics is more important,” she wrote. “It is love that fueled my Olympic dreams, and it is this love that now inspires me to do everything I can to make it safer for the many wonderful people in the sport and all the little 8-year-olds out there who will be watching the gymnasts in Tokyo, dreaming of one day making it to the Olympics themselves…”
While she won’t be competing, in Tokyo Raisman instructed People in December that she nonetheless deliberate on attending the Olympics to cheer on her teammates.
“I can’t believe the Olympics are already here this summer,” she stated. “I’m very excited for that. I plan to be in Tokyo to cheer everyone on. It’s going to be awesome.”