I Was the Fastest Girl in America, Until I Joined Nike | NYT Opinion I Was the Fastest Girl in America, Until I Joined Nike | NYT OpinionI was the fastest girl in America, many national records, and I was a straight-A student. When I was sixteen, I got the call from Alberto Salazar at Nike. He was the world’s most famous track coach and he told me I was most talented athlete ever seen during my freshman year in college. You got to train with him and his team full-time at Nike World Headquarters who’s a team of the fastest athlete in the world, and it was a dream come true. I join Nike because I wanted to be the best female athlete he said. I was emotionally and physically abused by System designed by Alberto and endorsed by Nike. This is what happened to me when I first arrived, an all-male Nike staff became convinced that, in order for me to get better, I had to become spinner, thinner and thinner was the top running program in the country, just a bunch of people who are Alberta’s friends. So when I went to anybody for help, they would always just tell me the same thing, and that was Susan. Alberto Alberto was constantly trying to get me to lose weight created an arbitrary number of 114 lb and usually weigh me in front of my teammates and publicly. Shame me if I wasn’t hitting weight the letter which isn’t allowed in track and field terrible during this time. Could reach the point where I was on the starting line and I’d lost the race before I started, because in my head, all I was thinking of was not the time I was trying to hit the number on the scale I saw earlier that day to not Acknowledge the fact that weight is important in sports like boxers need to maintain a certain before you know. Everybody always ends up setting them are the thinner. You are the fast you’re going to run because you to carry less weight, but here’s a biology lesson. I learned the hard way young women are forced to push themselves beyond what they’re capable at their given they’re at risk for developing RADS. Suddenly you realize You’ve Lost Your. For a couple months and then a couple months becomes a couple years and three and you’re not getting your. You’re not be able to have the necessary levels of estrogen to maintain strong bone house, and in my case I broke 5 Different phones, the New York Times magazine, published the story about how straining me and nurturing my talent we weren’t doing any of that. I felt so scared I felt so alone and I felt so trapped and I started to have Suicidal Thoughts. I started got myself: some people saw me cutting myself and nobody really did anything or said anything. 2015 Gran this race and I didn’t run super well and afterwards there was a thunderstorm going on half the track was under Funtime, Freddy yelled at me in front of everybody else, and he told me that I clearly gained 5 lb before the race was also that Night that I told aberto and artworks like that, I was cutting myself and I pretty much only they just want to go to bed, and I think for me that was my chicken. The head, where I was at this system, is sick parents vocalize to them. They were aurify home and they really get on that flight get the hell out of there. I wasn’t even trying to make the Olympics anymore. I was just trying to survive, so I made the painful choice and I quit the team anti-doping agency and Alberto Salazar Mark Parker. Stepping down from the company in January of 2020 are mostly a direct results of the doping Scandal. They’Re not acknowledging the fact that there’s a systemic crisis in women and at Nike young girls bodies are being ruined by an emotionally and physically abusive system. That’S what needs to change and here’s how we can do it. First, Nike change in track and field. Nike is all-powerful, they control the top coaching athletes, races, even the governing body. You can’t just fire a coach and eliminate a program and pretend the problem is. My worry is that Nikes merely going to Rebrand the old program and put Alberta’s old assistant coaches and charged? Secondly, we need more women in power. Part of me wonders if I’d work with more females, nutritionist, even coaches, where I be today, I got caught in a system designed by and for men which destroys the bodies of young girls how to fend for themselves. We have to protect them and I plan to be running for many years to come and so part of the reason I’m doing this now, as I want to end dr., I want to start a new one. Mary Cain’s male coaches were convinced she had to get “thinner, and thinner, and thinner.” Then her body started breaking down.
At 17, Mary Cain was already a record-breaking phenom: the fastest girl in a generation, and the youngest American runner to turn professional. In 2013, she was signed by the best track team in the world, Nike’s Oregon Project, run by its star coach Alberto Salazar.
Then everything collapsed. Her fall was just as spectacular as her rise, and she shares that story for the first time in the Video Op-Ed above.
Instead of becoming a symbol of girls’ unlimited potential in sports, Cain became yet another standout young athlete who got beaten down by a win-at-all-costs culture. Girls like Cain become damaged goods and fade away. We rarely hear what happened to them. We move on.
The problem is so widespread it affected the only other female athlete featured in the last Nike video ad Cain appeared in, the figure skater Gracie Gold. When the ad came out in 2014, like Cain, Gold was a prodigy considered talented enough to win a gold medal at the next Olympics. And, like Cain, Gold got caught in a system where she was compelled to become thinner and thinner. She developed disordered eating to the point of imagining her own death.
“America loves a good child prodigy story, and business is ready and waiting to exploit that story, especially when it comes to girls,” said Lauren Fleshman, who ran for Nike until 2012. “When you have these kinds of good girls, girls who are good at following directions to the point of excelling, you’ll find a system that’s happy to take them. And it’s rife with abuse.”
We don’t typically hear from the casualties of these systems — the girls who tried to make their way in this system until their bodies broke down and they left the sport. It’s easy to focus on bright new stars, while forgetting about those who disappeared. We fetishize these athletes, but we don’t protect them. If they fail to pull off what we expect them to, we abandon them.
But Mary Cain’s story isn’t over. By speaking out, she’s making sure of that.
Read the story here: https://nyti.ms/34DgcNu
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