Jennifer Sey, Goodwill Games, 1984
Jennifer Sey (b. 1969) was a highly decorated, elite gymnast. She was the 1986 National Gymnastics Champion and was considered the big U.S. hopeful for gold in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea. Despite talent and years of training she retired before those games even began. Later, she wrote a controversial book about her experiences in the sport. It’s called Chalked Up: Inside Elite Gymnastics’ Merciless Coaching, Overzealous Parents, Eating Disorders, and Elusive Olympic Dreams.
It’s unfortunate that during the very years Gen X girls were dreaming of being like Nadia Comăneci and Mary Lou Retton that the sport was actually filled with so many abuses of young girls.
Until reading Sey’s story, I didn’t really connect that the original Magnificent Seven were all Gen Xers. They were the first U.S. Women’s Gymanastics Team to win gold. (Atlanta, 1996)
The story of Jennifer Sey reminds me of how much the years in which we come of age can influence so many outcomes in our lives. I wonder what her career as a gymnast might have looked like if there hadn’t been so much Cold War influence on the 1980 and 1984 Olympics, and if female gymnasts had been more protected.