Posts Tagged ‘Kristin Maloney’

More dissatisfaction from former Olympians

November 25, 2008

Before Trudi Kollar gave spoke out about alleged abuse from Bela and Martha Karolyi last week, Elise Ray and Kristin Maloney went on the record as gymnasts not particularly enamoured with their Olympic experiences.

Neither Ray nor Maloney trained at the Karolyis, and neither allege abuse, although 2000 teammate Jamie Dantzscher once lashed out at Bela during a press conference after the team competition in Sydney, saying that he took credit when the team did well and blamed them when the team didn’t.

“He has so much control, entirely too much control over the U.S. team,” said Dantzscher, a native of Palmdale who now trains in San Dimas. `I think the individual coaches should have more control, because they know best what we need. . . . It’s really sad, because he knows so much about the sport of gymnastics, but he doesn’t know how to treat people.”

Neither Ray nor Maloney has any reason to be happy about the Sydney Games, where the U.S. team finished fourth and Ray was 11th in the all-around after a scary vault warmup (the horse was set at the wrong height, which touched off a scandal that some still argue invalidates the results) and seventh on beam.

For Maloney, the Olympics were the end of a career that was riddled with pain and ridicule. The pain came from her right leg, where she had fractured her tibia in 1998. She later had a rod surgically inserted and was competing again without having had much time to recover. The ridicule was because she was a gymnast whose form and execution were, in the opinion of the sport’s connaisseurs, relatively poor. But those who didn’t like her gymnastics haven’t really affected her, she said.

“When I was young, I made the mistake of reading that crap and that’s exactly what it is — crap,” Maloney said. “People don’t realize that these girls are just young girls, and it has an impact. They’re getting judged from a very young age.”

Even the whole making the Olympics thing wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. The 2000 generation followed in the footsteps of Kerri Strug, who learned something about pain on a memorable night in August 1996 but who had to deal with it and perform for about 40 seconds, not four years.

2000 U.S. Champion Ray, interviewed for a Maryland paper, has similar sentiments about her Olympic experience.

Sour memories remain for Ray of what should have been one of the greatest experiences of her life.

“We saw no one, we stayed in the village in a girls dorm, no closing ceremonies, no opening ceremonies … Very few people knew how bad it was for us (gymnasts). Everything that could have gone wrong did,” she said.

Marta Karolyi became national coordinator in 2001 and still holds the position.

“We were the guinea pig team,” Ray says of the 2000 squad.

By the time the vault controversy blew up, Ray and her teammates were nonplussed.

“What else could be thrown at us? It was like, ‘Are you serious?'”

Ray and Maloney told their respective newspapers they both hope to become teachers. But probably not teachers like Bela.

Something positive about the Parkettes

June 17, 2008

No, seriously.

Former Parkette gymnast Annie Fogarty.From the Philadelphia Inquirer, which dubs the gym that produced Kristen Maloney, Kim Kelly, Geralen Stack-Eaton and others “a gymnastics paradise”:

Formed in the gymnastics dark ages of 1968 with the help of a Philadelphia club, the Parkettes started out in the Strausses’ backyard, then moved to an unheated barn, a church basement, and a room above a concert hall before settling in a state-of-the-art, warehouse-size facility here.

In those 40 years, the program has produced a flock of world-class gymnasts, sending at least one competitor to every Olympics trials since 1976.

And even though the center of the American gymnastics universe has shifted south and west, the Parkettes’ streak will continue this weekend in Philadelphia.

In an era where Bela Karolyi is relegated to crowd-booster and Al Fong has embraced a healthy attitude toward preparing young women to be Olympians, much of the negative press about gymnastics has centered on the relatively sloppy, oft-injured but always super-intense Parkettes.

In some ways it’s too bad. Despite a 2003 CNN documentary that exposed the coaches’ (and, in some cases, parents’) callousness, the gym is still thriving, even if it’s not producing Olympians. Shouldn’t those gymnasts be praised for their accomplishments, instead of it being all about condemning the coaches?