Maggie Nichols’ memoir doesn’t quite strike the right balance — Nichols on ‘CBS Mornings’

The IX: Gymnastics Saturday with Lela Moore, Jan. 20, 2024

Happy Gymnastics Saturday! Former Team USA and Oklahoma gymnast Maggie Nichols’ memoir “Unstoppable” dropped on Tuesday. Nichols joins several other gymnasts of her generation — including Aly Raisman, Simone Biles and Laurie Hernandez — who are published authors. (Content warning: Abuse, eating disorders.)

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Like Raisman and Biles, both of whom detailed their own abuse in their respective memoirs, Nichols is a victim of former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. “Unstoppable” delves into both the nature of her abuse and the ensuing court battles against Nassar, Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics and the FBI.

Also like Raisman and Biles, Nichols has become somewhat of an activist and advocate for other abuse survivors.

“Unstoppable” is ostensibly a young-adult book, but it reads a bit younger than that, in my opinion. Yet the subject matter may be a bit much for tweens. I found much of her language around dieting and eating disorders problematic for any age group, and I wish someone had offered a sensitivity reading on those topics. She acknowledges on one hand that she was expected to follow a specific, restrictive diet and suffered medical issues as a result, yet she consistently describes the gymnastics she performed during that period as the best of her elite career. It’s frustrating to read this. 

On the other hand, her writing virtually glows when she discusses the redemptive nature of her NCAA career. While recent articles about issues within NCAA gymnastics might cause one to view this account skeptically, it is a relief to hear that Nichols had a good experience. Certainly her gymnastics was impressive during her career; she emerged as one of the top NCAA gymnasts of all time.

Oklahoma, where Nichols soared as an NCAA gymnast, is renowned for rehabbing injured athletes and allowing them to have big careers, and Nichols was no exception. Despite a knee injury that caused her trouble during her college career, she was still phenomenally successful.

Nichols famously did not make the 2016 Olympic team, nor was she chosen as a traveling alternate. In a documentary about her role as “Athlete A” in the Nassar case, she suggested that being left off that team was a result of her reporting abuse. I don’t think we’ll ever know the truth there, but many gymnastics fans point out that this narrative is damaging to those who did make the team that year. So I was happy to see that in her book, she focused more on not securing an alternate spot than a team spot and did not directly disparage the team selection. 

Would I recommend “Unstoppable”? I’m not sure. I don’t think it’s quite striking the chords it was meant to, and it underestimates its intended audience while also being a bit too much for the audience who will likely pick it up the most. If you read it, let me know what you think. 

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Other gym news

Balance Beam Situation brings us the Week 3 NCAA schedule and links to watch, the Week 2 records, and — yes — GIFs

College Gym News brings its own Week 3 preview and leotard rankings for Week 2. 

The second session of the Sprouts Collegiate Quad was the most-watched gymnastics meet on ESPN ever. Pretty cool. 

Speaking of ESPN, Raisman debuted as an ESPN analyst for Friday’s Kentucky-LSU matchup. 

No amount of donor support will save Lindenwood Gymnastics, the program reinforced this week on Instagram. 

Team Great Britain athlete (and Utah commit) Poppy Stickler suffered a back fracture and an avulsion fracture in her hip after a fall on bars. Wishing her a speedy recovery! 

The Cairo World Cup has a roster of nearly 300 athletes. It offers a last-ditch shot at an Olympic berth for some, The Gymternet reports. 

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Five at The IX: Maggie Nichols on ‘CBS Mornings’

Maggie Nichols appeared on “CBS Mornings” this week to discuss her memoir, “Unstoppable.”

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Written by Lela Moore