The six-time Olympic medalist took to Instagram on Tuesday to post an emotional letter confirming the rumors that she will not compete in Tokyo this summer, ending her 10-year career. However, she reflected on the craziness of the last decade and how she got there in the first place.
“The past 10 years have been such a whirlwind that I haven’t really processed all that has happened, and sometimes I wonder whether I ever will,” she wrote. “I’ve lived a pretty fast-paced life and sometimes I have to remind myself to slow down, unplug from technology and take the time to appreciate what I’ve experienced and learned. So many memories bubbled up over the holidays that I realized I needed to give myself the space to really sit with these feelings and reflect.”
The 25-year-old recalled the 1996 Olympic gymnastics competition which sparked her love for the sport. She said that she would watch it over and over again and even imitated routines. Raisman also included footage of herself from that young age when she first started training.
“I dreamt of wearing a red-white-and-blue leotard at the Olympics and imagined myself standing on the podium,” Raisman’s letter reads. “One of the best things about being a kid is the belief that anything is possible, and that no dream is too big. I suspect I keep going back to that time because I now know the power of that little girl’s dream.”
Despite the power that her young dreams proved to hold, Raisman also shared some thoughts that she would impart on her younger self if she could. Most importantly, she would tell herself about all of the “amazing people she will meet along the way.”
The athlete, who was one of many to accuse former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar of sexual abuse, also shared that she struggled to disclose her “darkest hours.”
“I wonder if I would tell her that life will be filled with ups and downs, and that there are people in the sport who will fail to protect her and her teammates,” she wrote. “It would be so hard to tell her that, but I would make sure she knows she will get through it and she will be OK.”
Nassar was ultimately sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison on criminal sexual conduct chargers in January 2018.
Raisman has gone on to become an advocate for sexual abuse survivors. She assured followers that that is just one part of how gymnastics has bettered her life, and the lives of others.
“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 concluded the emotional letter. “It is this 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 ...”
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