A Toxic Cocktail Of Abuse
One of the more exciting and competitive sports that arrive at the Olympics comes from the Gymnastics. The level of quality and athleticism displayed by these men and women is nothing short of incredible and there’s something endlessly awe-inspiring about seeing bodies contorting and twisting in the air in the manner they do.
In recent years, the USA gymnastic team have developed some incredible talents, including Simone Biles. Unfortunately, this glossy facade of achievement and celebration hides a very dark and ugly truth. Athlete A lifts the curtain on this truth, exposing the shocking reality surrounding the abuse many of the girls suffered over the years.
With this issue stretching back years and over 54 coaches involved in sexual misconduct complaints, the film builds up a bleak picture of a corrupt hierarchy which allowed Dr Larry Nassar to get away with so much abuse for such a long period of time.
Athlete A uses a really interesting visual juxtaposition of showing archival footage from the Olympic routines between the different girls talking about their abuse and what happened. It’s something that makes the stories that much more powerful as those public smiles and beaming grins from coaches only further accentuate how much is being hidden behind the scenes.
It’s not just the USA who go under the spotlight here though, and Russia also gets some screen time for their part in revolutionizing the sport – and for the trend of changing the competing athletes from adults to kids. Unfortunately this toxic cocktail is the perfect playground for abusers like Larry Nassar to thrive, hiding under a false pretense of kindness in the wake of tough coaches like the Karolyi’s.
It’s worth noting that some of the material here is pretty tough to watch and much like Jeffrey Epstein’s documentary earlier this year, Athlete A can be difficult to sit through as you listen to these different stories.
Overall though, Athlete A is a harrowing, difficult but must-watch documentary. It’s a film that exposes a level of rot and corruption within the US Olympic team that goes back years and tarnishes the reputation of a competition that’s all about celebration and teamwork. In an era of social media movements and cultural change, Athlete A is another volatile cocktail to add to a growing inferno; one more loud cry to stop this cycle of abuse from continuing.
Verdict - 8.5/10