I Was the Quickest Woman in America, Till I Joined Nike | NYT Opinion

Mary Cain’s male coaches have been satisfied she needed to get “thinner, and thinner, and thinner.” Then her physique began breaking down.

At 17, Mary Cain was already a record-breaking phenom: the quickest lady in a technology, and the youngest American runner to show skilled. In 2013, she was signed by the most effective observe crew on the planet, Nike’s Oregon Venture, run by its star coach Alberto Salazar.

Then every thing collapsed. Her fall was simply as spectacular as her rise, and she or he shares that story for the primary time within the Video Op-Ed above.

As an alternative of turning into an emblem of ladies’ limitless potential in sports activities, Cain turned yet one more standout younger athlete who received crushed down by a win-at-all-costs tradition. Women like Cain change into broken items and fade away. We hardly ever hear what occurred to them. We transfer on.

The issue is so widespread it affected the one different feminine athlete featured within the final Nike video advert Cain appeared in, the determine skater Gracie Gold. When the advert got here out in 2014, like Cain, Gold was a prodigy thought of gifted sufficient to win a gold medal on the subsequent Olympics. And, like Cain, Gold received caught in a system the place she was compelled to change into thinner and thinner. She developed disordered consuming to the purpose of imagining her personal loss of life.

“America loves a very good baby prodigy story, and enterprise is prepared and ready to use that story, particularly relating to women,” mentioned Lauren Fleshman, who ran for Nike till 2012. “When you’ve these sorts of fine women, women who’re good at following instructions to the purpose of excelling, you’ll discover a system that’s joyful to take them. And it’s rife with abuse.”

We don’t usually hear from the casualties of those methods — the women who tried to make their approach on this system till their our bodies broke down and so they left the game. It’s straightforward to concentrate on shiny new stars, whereas forgetting about those that disappeared. We fetishize these athletes, however we don’t defend them. In the event that they fail to drag off what we anticipate them to, we abandon them.

However Mary Cain’s story isn’t over. By talking out, she’s ensuring of that.

Learn the story right here: https://nyti.ms/34DgcNu
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