Memoirs of a gymnast......Caroline.......Chapter 7. | jenni855's Blog

This will be the hardest chapter to write for me. As can be seen, I had already experienced the darker side of gymnastics, the strict training regime of stretching and endless practicing, the weight issues and the fear of Alison especially when she lashed out. Ok, it wasn't often but even one slap round the leg was unacceptable and enough to make me feel even more fearful of her.
When I was paired with Caroline, I wasn't happy about it. I just didn't want to be paired with her and had a bad feeling. She had worked with Nicole previously and Nicole hadn't said anything bad but there was just this feeling. Ovee time, I began to see I was right. Caroline would stretch me excessively, to the point where I literally got up, tried to stand and found I couldn't walk in a straight line as my legs had been stretched far too excessively. I was like a jelly and walking like a drunk person. This would happen everyday and I was actuall worried for my body. I knew this excessive stretching was not normal, I couldn't walk for a while afterwards, how could that be right? Yes, I had been stretched before of course but never to this level. This wasn't stretching, this was torturing someone. Yet again, Caroline like all the other older gymnasts who were allowed to stretch us, had no clue what she was doing. Anyone who actually bothered to take a look at what she was doing to me could see that. It was a regime that I began to dread everyday, yet I never cried. I rarely cried in the gym. Perhaps in the beginning I was but not as time went on. However painful the stretching was, I never cried except one time which I will describe later.
As well as that Caroline would blame every botched up move we did on me. I remember one time she kept sending me over to practice handstands by the wallbars. Even Alison stepped in at that point and said there was nothing wrong with my handstands. Caroline also had really sharp nails and when we were doing moves where she had to hold me up by the waist, I used to come home covered in nail marks all over my hips. It was really painful and sore.
Caroline wasn't like my other pairings, they were pretty much nice girls. Caroline was spiteful and she was friends with a girl called Antonia who was also spiteful. I remember they used to make some "jokes" at my expense at times and I always used to feel embarrassed about it. Both of them made me feel uneasy.
Myself and Caroline won a trophy at a competition together and technically I was the best at gymnastics that I had ever been. We were coming up with new skills all the time and our routines looked amazing. We did well at competitions and to the outside, we must have looked a fantastic pairing but then people didn't know what hell it was
to work with her. 
The worst incident with her was the last day of one of the summer camps. My parents and grandparents had all come to watch as on the last day, we all did a big display. They were all waiting outside and Caroline was with somw guy who I didn't know. I hadn't warmed up properly at this stage and was just hanging around waiting for the show to start. Caroline then started stretching me but this time it was worse then ever before. She was really, really hurting me and I knew she was doing it for a laugh as she was laughing at my distress as was the guy. He was wincing and laughing and I was just crying. Something which I never did but this time I just couldn't stop myself. It wasn't just the pain even though that was bad enough, it was the humilation. Two people older then myself having a laugh at my expense, at my pain, of not being able to get away from them and knowing that even if I told someone, they would most likely have told me to suck it up and stop being weak. Caroline realised she had overstepped the mark and carried me off to the wallbars. This time to stretch my back but also to calm me down. I did calm down and managed to produce a flawless routine with Caroline. It was videoed and I look so happy and together in it. I guess that showed how strong I had become. What sickens me most is knowing my family were literally outside the door when Caroline and the guy did this to me. They must have seen but I can't remeember them saying anything and maybe my face was hidden anyway. I would like to think they would have stepped in if they had seen how distressed I was and how Caroline and the guy were acting. My now late grandmother had come to watch the show and I know she enjoyed it and was proud. I know she used to watch all my competition videos at home and cry as she was so proud. I know that she knew about the stretching as back during one of my early competitions, my dad had filmed me getting stretched and she saw. She seemed surprised but then what she saw was light stretching. I do find it kind of weird that my dad had filmed that though. I don't have kids but I know I couldn't physically watch them be stretched without lashing out at the person involved. That isn't just because of my experiences, I just know for a fact, I wouldn't be able to stand it. My point is, I am glad my nan didn't know what had happened just before the show, that is the only thing I can be thankful for. It is a memory that still haunts me, like I say, it wasn't just the physical pain, it was the way they made me feel like I was a nobody, someone who they could do the hell they wanted with as they knew they could. It is something that I wish I could get out of my head. Again, I have never told anyone this so it is liberating but hard to finally open up here.

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Posted on 02:45PM on Feb 11th, 2013
What a horribly painful thing to have gone through. :( I am sad for you that your parents did nothing to help....they should have noticed you weren't happy and the stretching....god Jenni, that sounds awful.

I'm sure that was hard to write. Looking forward to the next part. x
Posted on 09:02AM on Feb 12th, 2013
Oh Jenni, that is simply abuse!! I am so sorry that you suffered the pain and humiliation of this. I'm very happy that you're speaking about it. I didn't have any idea that things like this went on in this sport. Bless you for sharing this information and your personal experience. I hope people read and become educated on this sort of training for children. It's emotionally, physically, and spiritually abusive. My heart aches for you but I am proud that you were able to share here. xxxxxxx
Posted on 02:00PM on Feb 12th, 2013
Thank you, both of you. I overestimated how hard that would be to write. I have had to take a break from writing the memoir. It has screwed my head up a bit. Sometimes it is frightening to revisit this memory and speak about it in detail. I just hope this chapter and the other ones in my memoir helps someone. xx
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Previous Posts
Saturday, 3rd January 2015, posted January 3rd, 2015
Gymnastics..., posted December 2nd, 2013, 5 comments
Letter to M....., posted August 19th, 2013
Memoirs of a gymnast......Caroline.......Chapter 7., posted February 10th, 2013, 3 comments
Memoirs of a gymnast.....I want to leave......Chapter 6., posted February 9th, 2013
Memoirs of a gymnast.....Weight issues.....Chapter 5., posted February 8th, 2013, 4 comments
Memoirs of a gymnast......Camp and food....Chapter 4., posted February 7th, 2013, 4 comments
Memoirs of a gymnast.....The trio and our first competition...Chapter 3., posted February 6th, 2013, 2 comments
Memoirs of a gymnast.....Entering the squad. Chapter Two., posted February 5th, 2013, 4 comments
Memoirs of a gymnast....Introduction and chapter 1., posted February 4th, 2013, 6 comments
A letter to my mother......, posted July 22nd, 2012, 1 comment
A lettter to Kirsty......, posted July 22nd, 2012
Tuesday, 20th March 2012....An open letter to my circle...., posted March 20th, 2012, 9 comments

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