Aly Raisman in new book: ‘Horrible memories’ with Larry Nassar

Aly Raisman
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Aly Raisman said her interactions with then-USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar were “horrible memories” in her autobiography to be published Tuesday.

In a “60 Minutes” interview segment published Friday, Raisman first said publicly that she was sexually abused by Nassar, who has been sued by more than 125 women alleging abuse. Nassar pled not guilty to the assault charges.

Nassar, who is in jail awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to child pornography charges, and his lawyers have declined comment.

Two other Olympians, 2000 Olympic bronze medalist Jamie Dantzscher and Raisman’s 2012 Olympic teammate McKayla Maroney, also said they were sexually abused by Nassar while with the U.S. national team.

Raisman, 23, said Nassar first treated her when she was 15, though she was at first in denial that it was sexual abuse.

“I always thought he was weird, but I just thought he was weird,” Raisman said on TODAY on Monday. “I want people to know that I really didn’t know what was happening to me. He was a doctor, and he told me that his treatment would help heal all of my injuries. I was so young. I had never really worked with another doctor or trainer before. Everyone said he was the best.”

In her book, “Fierce,” Raisman said she would not get into specifics of what she called Nassar’s abuse, writing “that information is private,” as first reported by the Boston Globe and confirmed by NBC Sports.

“We had been so manipulated. It had all been intentional,” Raisman wrote. “He had taken advantage of me … I wanted to throw up. Realizing you’ve been a victim of sexual abuse is a horrible, sickening feelings.”

Raisman wrote that when she was 15 and in Australia for a competition, a national team staff member noticed her wincing during practice. Raisman said she just wanted to sleep, but the staffer insisted that she see Nassar, calling it “a huge honor” to work with “the best there is.”

Raisman relented because she didn’t want to be labeled as uncooperative. Nassar gave her a massage in her hotel room while she wore leggings and with two other people in the room.

“There was something about the massage that made me uncomfortable, but the staff member’s words stuck in my head,” Raisman wrote.

Raisman wrote that during her years on the national team, “treatment sessions” with Nassar “always made me feel tense and uncomfortable.”

“It was different with Larry,” she wrote. “I would lie on the table, my hands involuntarily balling themselves into fists as his ungloved hands worked their way under my clothing.”

Raisman wrote that Nassar comforted female gymnasts by bringing them candy. He gave her gifts and said how well she performed in training sessions.

“Most of us thought the way he touched us was weird,” she wrote. “But he did it to so many of us that we assumed, blindly, that he must know something we didn’t.”

In July 2015, Raisman wrote that she met with an investigator, urged by then-USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny to agree to the interview. Raisman didn’t know the subject matter before the investigator arrived.

“I hope this isn’t about Larry Nassar,” Raisman wrote. “But I dismissed the thought. I trusted him, because he was nice to me, and because he had tons of awards. … The whispers couldn’t be true.”

Raisman was asked about Nassar but said she made excuses for him. She was laser focused on trying to make the Olympic team the following year.

“I was terrified that the media would find out, and bring it up at every turn, before I was ready to talk about it, before I had even begun to process it myself,” she wrote. “ … I was overwhelmed with emotion.”

After talking to her mom, Raisman called a USA Gymnastics official to talk about what she would have told the investigator if she was not in shock. She was later told that she “needed to stop speaking about Larry” due to a process in place that would protect her and others.

USA Gymnastics said in September 2016 that it relieved Nassar of his duties in summer 2015, “immediately after learning of athlete concerns.”

Raisman originally planned to keep this part of her story private. She changed her mind and included it in the book to help others.

“If a sexual predator is committing assault, the unfortunate reality is that it might not be their first time, and probably isn’t their last,” she wrote. “That makes it even more scary, realizing it can happen to anyone. I know that now, because it happened to me.”

USA Gymnastics posted a statement after the “60 Minutes” interview aired Sunday.

“We are appalled by the conduct of which Larry Nassar is accused, and we are very sorry that any athlete has been harmed during her or his gymnastics career,” it read. “Aly’s passion and concern for athlete safety is shared by USA Gymnastics. Our athletes are our priority, and we are committed to promoting an environment of empowerment that encourages speaking up, especially on difficult topics like abuse, as well the protection of athletes at all levels throughout our gymnastics community.

“USA Gymnastics regrets if Aly felt any constraints in sharing her full experiences with the independent investigator or at any time, as USA Gymnastics did seek Aly’s input in this matter,” USA Gymnastics said in another statement, according to TODAY.

Raisman said she does not believe USA Gymnastics is doing everything that it can.

“This is just the beginning. I’m just getting started,” Raisman said on TODAY. “I’m not going to stop until I get what I want, which is change.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Mikaela Shiffrin wins 85th World Cup, can tie overall record Sunday

Mikaela Shiffrin
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Mikaela Shiffrin earned her 85th World Cup win on Saturday and can tie the Alpine skiing World Cup victories record on Sunday.

Shiffrin won the first of back-to-back slaloms in Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic, site of her World Cup debut in 2011 at age 15, for her 11th victory in 22 starts this season.

She prevailed by six tenths of a second over German Lena Duerr combining times from two runs. Then she celebrated with an uncharacteristic shoulder shimmy before “Simply the Best” by Tina Turner began playing over loudspeakers in the finish area.

It’s not the first time that song has been played after a Shiffrin victory this season.

“I knew it would take some risk,” she said. “There’s a chance I don’t finish at all.”

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Shiffrin, having her best season since her record 17-win campaign in 2018-19, is now one victory shy of the Alpine World Cup record held by Swede Ingemar Stenmark, who won 86 times between slalom and giant slalom in the 1970s and ’80s.

Stenmark has held the record since January 1982.

Shiffrin races in another slalom on Sunday in Spindleruv Mlyn, the last women’s race before February’s world championships. World championships races do not count as World Cups. The World Cup season resumes following worlds in late February.

Shiffrin is on her second winning streak this season and has won nine of her last 14 races dating to Dec. 18. Last Tuesday, she won a giant slalom in Kronplatz, Italy, to break her tie with Lindsey Vonn for the women’s Alpine World Cup wins record. On Wednesday, she won another GS In Kronplatz.

She leads the standings for the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing, by more than 600 points through 27 of 39 scheduled races. At this rate, she could clinch her fifth overall title before March’s World Cup Finals.

She is currently tied with Vonn for the second-most women’s overall titles behind Austrian Annemarie Moser-Pröll, who won five in the 1970s.

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Aryna Sabalenka wins Australian Open for first Grand Slam singles title

Aryna Sabalenka Australian Open 2023
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MELBOURNE, Australia — Aryna Sabalenka won her first Grand Slam title by coming back to beat Elena Rybakina 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the Australian Open women’s final Saturday.

The 24-year-old Sabalenka, who is from Belarus, was appearing in her first major final.

She improved to 11-0 in 2023, and the only set she has dropped all season was the opener on Saturday against Wimbledon champion Rybakina.

But Sabalenka turned things around with an aggressive style that resulted in 51 winners, 20 more than her opponent. She used 17 aces to overcome seven double-faults. And she managed to break the big-serving Rybakina three times, the last coming for a 4-3 lead in the third set that she never relinquished.

Still, Sabalenka needed to work for the championship while serving in what would be the last game, double-faulting on her initial match point and requiring three more to close things out.

When Rybakina sent a forehand long to cap the final after nearly 2 1/2 hours, Sabalenka dropped to her back on the court and stayed down for a bit, covering her face as her eyes welled with tears.

Sabalenka is a powerful player whose most glowing strength was also her most glaring shortfall: her serve. Long capable of hammering aces, she also had a well-known problem with double-faulting, leading the tour in that category last year with nearly 400, including more than 20 apiece in some matches.

After much prodding from her team, she finally agreed to undergo an overhaul of her serving mechanics last August. That, along with a commitment to trying to stay calm in the most high-pressure moments, is really paying off now.

Sabalenka was 0-3 in Grand Slam semifinals until eliminating Magda Linette in Melbourne. Now Sabalenka has done one better and will rise to No. 2 in the rankings.

As seagulls were squawking loudly while flying overhead at Rod Laver Arena, Rybakina and Sabalenka traded booming serves. Rybakina’s fastest arrived at 121 mph, Sabalenka’s at 119 mph. They traded zooming groundstrokes from the baseline, often untouchable, resulting in winner after winner.

The key statistic, ultimately, was this: Sabalenka accumulated 13 break points, Rybakina seven. And although Sabalenka converted just a trio of them, that was enough, and the constant pressure she managed to apply during Rybakina’s service games had to take a toll.

Sabalenka had been broken just six times in 55 service games through the course of these two weeks, an average of once per match. It took Rybakina fewer than 10 minutes of action and all of two receiving games to get the measure of things and lead 2-1, helped by getting back one serve that arrived at 117 mph (189 kph).

A few games later, Sabalenka returned the favor, also putting her racket on one of Rybakina’s offerings at that same speed. Then, when Sabalenka grooved a down-the-line backhand passing winner to grab her first break and pull even at 4-all, she looked at her coach and fitness coach in the stands, raised a fist and shouted.

In the next game, though, Sabalenka gave that right back, double-faulting twice — including on break point — to give Rybakina a 5-4 edge. This time, Sabalenka again turned toward her entourage, but with a sigh and an eye roll and arms extended, as if to say, “Can you believe it?”

Soon after, Rybakina held at love to own that set.

Sabalenka changed the momentum right from the get-go in the second set. Aggressively attacking, she broke to go up 3-1, held for 4-1 and eventually served it out, fittingly, with an ace — on a second serve, no less.

Sabalenka acknowledged ahead of time that she expected to be nervous. Which makes perfect sense: This was the most important match of her career to date.

And if those jitters were evident ever-so-briefly early — she double-faulted on the evening’s very first point — and appeared to be resurfacing as the end neared, Sabalenka controlled them well enough to finish the job.

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