Aly Raisman talks sexual assault, Olympic career

Aly Raisman, team captain of the gold medal-winning USA gymnastics team in 2012 and 2016, speaks Tuesday night at the University Auditorium. Raisman talked about her dream of becoming an Olympian and her training as well as the letter she wrote and read to her abuser Larry Nassar. 

 

Aly Raisman almost didn’t testify against her abuser in the trial, but at the last minute, she was inspired to use her voice for good.

Raisman, the team captain of the gold medal-winning USA Gymnastics teams in 2012 and 2016, talked about her experience testifying against her former gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar and standing up for herself at an Accent Speakers Bureau event Tuesday night.

Raisman was paid $56,000 to appear and spoke for more than an hour at the sold-out show. Her speech at the University Auditorium was moderated by Ann Christiano, the director of the UF Center for Public Interest Communications.

Raisman said she and nearly 300 other athletes came forward and accused Nassar of sexual abuse.

“When I spoke, I felt very empowered in the moment,” Raisman said. “Then when I left, I felt exhausted and could barely hold my head up.”

She said she was empowered by the other women who came forward and her experiences have made her want to speak out against sexual misconduct in athletics and beyond.

“If everybody actually did something to help, this would be a very different world,” Raisman said.

Courtney Smithgall, a 23-year-old UF physical therapy doctoral student, said she has been a fan of Raisman since she competed in the 2012 Olympics.

“I loved hearing her speak about self-care and looking out for others around you,” Smithgall said. “There are things we often forget to do because of the craziness of college.”

Contact Emma Witmer at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @emwitmer