I went down a rhythmic gymnastics rabbit hole after reading more about Soldatova’s retirement and struggles in the sport (https://www.rockergymnastics.com/rhythmic-gymnastics/2020/2/6/alexandra-soldatovas-alleged-suicide-attempt-rocks-rhythmic-gymnasticsnbsp). Because RG doesn’t have nearly as high of a profile as artistic gymnastics in many countries, I’m curious to hear if folks here follow it closely.
I feel deeply sad to think that Soldatova’s experiences seem to be very common within the Russian program. I watched Over the Limit (documentary) a few years ago and was horrified by Viner. The fact that she’s married to the richest man in Russia clearly makes her even more powerful, and then there are the connections between the program and Russian politics (former Olympic champion Alina Kabaeva has been romantically linked to Putin for 10+ years and was also a member of the Duma).
For those who do follow RG, a few questions for conversation: Why do you think RG hasn’t gained as much traction in countries like the U.S.? Any suggestions for reading or viewing material about the sport? Do you know of gymnasts who seem to have had healthier experiences? As I’ve thought about Soldatova’s experience, I’ve also wondered whether some of the problems within rhythmic gymnastics, especially the eating disorders, are connected to the sport itself. While artistic gymnastics certainly places pressure on athletes to be thin, there is at least growing awareness around health, nutrition, etc. as well as gymnasts with a range of body types. But I’ve never seen a rhythmic gymnast who is anything other than extremely thin, and I wonder if the contortion-like flexibility required is really safe. Are there any examples of countries/athletes pursuing this sport in a healthy way?
Basically: Rhythmic gymnastics! Let’s talk about it. 🙂