It seems that as the gymnastics community we should brace ourselves for more heartbreaks in the coming future as the brave women giving their victim impact statements at Larry Nassar’s sentencing embolden others to talk about the abuse and sexual assaults they’ve experienced. I applaud and support every woman who decides to come forward with her story and hopefully, it will make the sport safer for the athletes in the long run.
Iceland’s elite gymnast Tinna Odinsdottir went public with her story this week. She says she was raped by a gymnast from another country at the Cottbus Challenge Cup in 2016. She gave an interview to RUV.is in Icelandic earlier this week and today also agreed to talk to Gymnovosti about her experience.
Odinsdottir: “I got raped at an international competition in 2016. This terrible experience changed my life. I find it very difficult to say this but I sincerely hope that it helps someone”.
“It just started like every other national team trip, we had fun and we trained a lot. And of course, I had no idea that my life would change permanently. At the banquet [after the competition], I was just with my friends and was having fun. We went to a fun place with all the participants of the competition and it was very fun, and there were boys (from another country) with us who ended up inviting us all to their hotel because the nightclub was closed because it was Sunday. It was very fun there, but then people began to go home”.
“My friend and I were at the hotel to chat, but suddenly everything just changed and the atmosphere became completely different. My friend left and when I was about to leave I couldn’t. They all went on me and tried to kiss me and the 2 boys held me down while the other took his clothes off. I was trying to push them away but just couldn’t handle them and they were too strong. I totally gave up. They understood what they were doing. I just became powerless and I realized that I was not going anywhere anytime soon. It was like my brain just had blocked it all out and I somehow left my body and just watched it, the whole thing. I simply do not know how long time it all took. The men finally threw their clothes at me and told me I could leave. I’ve never felt so dirty in my life”.
Tinna said that it took her a long time to be able to talk about what happened. She didn’t tell her parents until about half a year later because she wanted to spare them the pain. She told her coach and later – people at the Icelandic gymnastics federation. She says that she found the courage to talk about it publicly after following Nassar’s sentencing:
“I have been following the Larry Nassar case as probably everyone else had and all those women gave me the courage to speak up.”
She has not yet decided whether she will file an official complaint with the FIG as this would be a classic case of “he said-she said”, unfortunately:
“I haven’t decided what to do next yet, but when it is a case like this with no evidence I will not press charges. But I’m still figuring out if I want to make a statement to his federation and to FIG”.
Tinna continued competing after that and had to face her assaulters at the last year’s European Championships. The fact that she was still able to perform on the international stage shows just how incredibly strong she is:
“I was not scared of him, but it was not nice for me to look at him compete and everyone was cheering him on. And no one knew what happened”.
She still loves gymnastics and is training for the upcoming Nordic and European Championships. She also has a message for everyone who experienced sexual assault and wants to come forward:
“Just don’t be scared! You have more people than you think who will stand behind you! To stop this we have to come clean and tell our stories! And if there is anyone who wants to talk to me, feel free, I’m here to help!”
Tinna Odinsdottir competing on floor at the 2017 Euros in Cluj-Napoca.