Although this will not come as a shock for many gymnastics fans, Aly Raisman has officially announced that she will not be vying for a spot on the 2020 U.S. Olympic team.
In a heartfelt statement released Tuesday on Twitter, the two-time U.S. Olympic team captain reflected on her storied career, which included leading Team USA to victory in the last two Olympic Games.
“Honestly, it’s still so hard for me to get my head around the fact that I competed in the Olympics—twice!” she wrote. “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.”
The three-time gold medalist hasn’t competed in a gymnastics competition since the 2016 Rio Olympics, choosing instead to focus on activism on behalf of sexual abuse survivors after disclosing that she, too, had been abused by former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar.
In the statement, Raisman recalled watching a VHS tape of the 1996 Olympics in her living room as an aspiring 8-year-old gymnast. She knew all of the routines by heart and “dreamt of wearing a red-white-and-blue leotard at the Olympics.”
“One of the best things about being a kid is the belief that anything is possible, and that no dream is too big,” she said. “I suspect I keep going back to that time because I now know the power of that little girl’s dream.”
Never underestimate the power of a kids dream ❤️ pic.twitter.com/R5uAuRvl17— Alexandra Raisman (@Aly_Raisman) January 14, 2020
Raisman also reflected on the things she’d say to her younger self if given the opportunity.
“I would tell her about all the amazing people she will meet along the way, and the success she will have,” including one day becoming the very inspiration for “some other little girl to cartwheel around her house, dreaming of one day competing at the Olympics.”
Raisman also said she struggles with whether she would tell her 8-year-old self about the “tough,” times, alluding to the Nassar scandal where dozens of coaches, administrators, and law enforcement officials failed “to protect her and her teammates” from abuse.
“It would be so hard to tell her that, but I would make sure she knows she will get through it and be okay,” she reflected. “And I would tell her that it is often in our darkest hours, when we feel most vulnerable and alone, that we realize our greatest growth.”
Part of that growth is realizing how her love for the sport was always more important than her Olympic dreams, and how it continues to guide her and fuel her purpose.
“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 …”