10 Comments

Now my eyesight is blurred again. She deserves to be more widely known.

Expand full comment

Love this. Imagine what you could do if the whole country was depending on you - I can't imagine that kind of pressure.

Expand full comment
Oct 20, 2023Liked by Ben Kerschberg

I was watching as well. Looking back, it breaks my heart that she had to do that, that the pressure to WIN WIN WIN at all costs was (and still is) so fucking strong in sports.

Expand full comment

An amazing moment. It makes me wonder if somewhere in our depths, we all have that reservoir of courage and determination. That one thing that lifts out of the ordinary. Thanks for the reminder.

Expand full comment
author

I think we do. It comes out in different ways at different times. Have a nice weekend.

Expand full comment

There are moments that tie us to together. That bind us to one another. No matter how far apart we think we are. No matter the country or the continent. No matter which side of the aisle we think we're on. Moments that shatter the illusion of our alone-ness. The delusion of individual divisibility. It's in the instances of our shared humanity. Our inherent perseverance. Our "studdorn gladness" Elizabeth Gilbert says. Our sheer indomitable will.

Expand full comment

Oh, my, I do remember that! There was a lot of controversy over it at the time, especially after people started learning how harsh a lot of those coaches are - particularly Bela Karolyi, whose favorite thing was to call the girls "pregnant turkeys" when things weren't working out right. Lots of interesting questions about pushing people to be their best, and at what cost. In the ensuing years, of course lots of other unseemly things coming out about US Gymnastics...

I was, of course, very impressed with this feat. It was absolutely amazing. However, being a girl just slightly older than the US Olympic Gymnastics team, as I was closing in on my 17th birthday that summer, I couldn't shake the feeling that here these girls were, doing amazing things, and there I was, confused and with "nothing" to show in my life. It took me a good bit of time to get past that. I do remember a friend trying to make me feel better by telling me that these girls basically live at a "little people farm" and get trotted out once every four years for this, and that's no type of life for a normal person. That stuck, at the very least. *L*

Expand full comment
author

Gymnasts are produced on farms, unfortunately. The Karolyis were amazing coaches, and after you’ve coached Nadia and Mary Lou, you have a free pass to coach how you want, which isn’t always healthy. Between their methods and the Nassir scandals, U.S. Gymnastics has been turned on its head. I’m glad your friend’s perspective took an edge off the “nothing” feeling. It plagues many for a very long time. Thanks so much for reading and your insights.

Expand full comment

Looking it up now, Strug is older than I am. *L*

Expand full comment

Of course I vividly remember this moment too, but I can't not hear Chris Kattan whenever I think about this amazing accomplishment.

Expand full comment