By: Matthew Rodriguez
In a day featuring so many prominent people, one of the most impactful speakers was Jordyn Wieber. The former Olympic gold medalist and current assistant coach of the UCLA Gymnastics team, gave an empowering speech at the LA84 Foundation Summit.
Wieber came forward as a survivor of sexual abuse by the former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar in January of 2018, and at the summit, she shared her experiences again.
She demanded that the sports world should avoid the culture that made it possible for a doctor to get away with sexual abuse for so many years.
“It was a result of a toxic culture and environment of gymnastics in the United States that has prioritized winning over safety,” said Wieber. “It was a result of adults looking the other way in order to protect reputations and to continue placing more importance on money and medals.”
Although the sexual abuse perpetrated by Nassar was appalling and affected hundreds of women, Wieber said that parents, coaches and athletes need to stay vigilant and pay attention to the signs of abuse in order to prevent anything similar happening again.
“Although what has happened in gymnastics is a tragedy, I believe that we can all learn from it,” said Wieber. “It’s the little things that we all choose to do. Educate yourself and those around you. Listen to kids when they tell you that something weird is going on. Be on the lookout for signs of grooming manipulation or power from those who spend a lot of time around kids.”
Wieber sees sports as not only an outlet of energy, but a place to learn important life lessons. She says being involved in gymnastics helped her learn many great life lessons; such as discipline, determination and resilience. Now she wants to pass along these life lessons to others.
“I think those of us here today can all agree that sport is one of the top if not the number one venue for kids to grow and learn,” said Wieber.
She continued later saying her main goal as an assistant coach of the UCLA gymnastics team is to pass along the lessons she learned.
“Through my hardships and resilience in this sport, I have overcome so much and found my voice,” said Wieber. “That’s what I hope for each of the athletes on our team. My goal for them is that they identify their unique purpose and understand their abilities have a big impact within in sports that goes farther than the routines that they perform.”