Athlete A is more than just Netflix’s newest riveting documentary. In 2018, gymnastics star Maggie Nichols stepped forward to reveal she was the "Athlete A" in the long list of women and girls who reported Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse within the USA Gymnastics system. The documentary tells parts of Nichols’ experience bringing these atrocities to light, but if you want to learn even more about her contributions to the gymnastics world — more specifically, to see Maggie Nichols’ impressive gymnastics videos throughout recent years — you’ve come to the right place.
After Nichols, her family, and her coach Sarah Jantzi told USA Gymnastics (USAG) about the abuse by Nassar — the former USAG national team doctor who also worked at Michigan State University — USAG initially kept the allegations quiet. But Nichols’ actions ended up becoming one of the dominos that caused a cascade across the gymnastics world. By the time the case against Nassar went to trial, Nassar was accused of abusing more than 250 gymnasts, many of whom had been underage at the time. The number of people who accused him of abuse now stands at more than 500, according to Athlete A.
Nassar pleaded guilty to 10 charges of criminal sexual conduct in 2017, and is now serving consecutive prison sentences that will keep him behind bars for life. A class action lawsuit continues against USAG, accusing the organization of fostering a climate in which abusers like Nassar could thrive. In a statement provided to Elite Daily via email on July 1, USAG says, "USA Gymnastics has fully cooperated with all investigatory bodies, and we will continue to cooperate. We are deeply committed to learning from the numerous independent investigations that have been conducted to date as we pursue meaningful change within our sport."
Though she may not be a Simone Biles-level household name, Nichols deserves all the positive attention she is now getting — not just because of the documentary, but also because of her skill as an athlete. Nichols is one of the sport’s biggest stars, referred to as the "Michael Jordan of college gymnastics." On July 13, 2016, following not making the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team, Nichols announced she was retiring from elite gymnastics to compete at the college level with the University of Oklahoma. The next year saw her become the ninth woman ever in the NCAA to complete a "Gym Slam," aka landing a perfect 10 in all four disciplines within the competitive year; she did it again the following year. By the time her senior year ended in 2020 (earlier than expected due to the coronavirus) Nichols had notched 22 perfect scores in her NCAA career, a record for the University of Oklahoma.
Check out these videos to see Nichols in action:
1. 8.9 Floor Exercise, 2016
Maggie Nichols was considered a real contender for the 2016 Olympic team before a knee injury sidelined her for two months out of the season. When she returned to compete for a spot on the team, she was not chosen, but floor exercises like this one were one of the reasons why the followers of the sport found her so exciting.
2. Perfect 10 Uneven Bars, 2017
When Nichols moved to the NCAA, it was like she had something to prove. She went on a tear that year, and by the end of the season she had hit perfect 10s in every event (thanks in part to this uneven bars routine), scoring her first Gym Slam.
3. Perfect 10 Floor Routine, 2017
When Nichols achieved her Gym Slam, she was only the ninth woman ever in the sport to accomplish one, getting 10s across the board in every event. Here’s her floor routine that was part of the seven perfect 10s she got during the 2017 season.
4. Perfect 10 Vault Routine, 2018
If there’s one event Nichols has become known for above all others, it’s the vault; it’s the event she’s scored a perfect 10 on the most. Here she is doing just that as part of her second Gym Slam in a row in 2018.
5. Perfect 10 Balance Beam, 2018
Nichols achieved a second Gym Slam in 2018. Here she is scoring one of those 10s on the balance beam. In all, she scored eight perfect 10s that year, one more than she did in 2017.
6. 9.975 Balance Beam, 2019
Of course, you can’t hit a 10 every time. But sometimes the beam routine score is high enough to win the category anyway. Here’s Nichols with a different balance beam routine that took home the win for OU.
7. Perfect 10 Vault Routine, 2020
Nichols remains the one to watch on the vault.
8. 9.925 Floor Exercise, 2020
To bookend 2016’s floor routine, here is one of Nichols’ most recent floor exercises. Her final year in the NCAA came to an end early due to the coronavirus shutdown, but Nichols called her four years at OU, "a dream come true." Capping off that dream, she was named the Big 12 Gymnast of the Year for a second and final time on March 30, 2020. In April, she also landed the prestigious AAI Award, known as the Heisman Trophy of Women’s Gymnastics, and was the first student-athlete from OU to receive the honor.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.
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