Story About Bullying As Told to Me by Ana Porgras
There's been a lot of bullying on the internet lately, and the gymternet is no exception. There have been recent headlines of 2 females, 1 in Canada and 1 in the US, who committed suicide after endless amounts of bullying. Not to mention countless numbers of individuals that have been made so uncomfortable by others that the thought of taking their own life seems like the only solution. October is National Bullying Prevention Month so I figured I'd tackle something that has been on my mind for some time lately.
Romania left the 2011 World Championships without a single medal but they did leave with a prize when Ana Porgras was awarded the 2011 Longines Prize for Elegance. However, fans and the Romanian media were not happy. Soon after Worlds, there were discussions about how Ana was more interested in boys and how this elite gymnast was satisfied with this Prize for Elegance even though she didn't receive any medals. I remember things getting particularly harsh when a Romanian training video was released and Ana wasn't in it. Immediately, the comments ran to things about her interest in boys or makeup when in reality, Ana was competing while that news segment was shot.
2011 Worlds FX AA. Watch here:
That moment stuck with me. We were so harsh to one of the most elegant gymnasts of the last quad, perhaps of all time, because of things we read and didn't even know if they were true or not. When Ana Porgras retired, we were all mourning the loss as if she died. "You don't know what you've got til it's gone." I couldn't help but feel a little responsible. Of course we're supposed to think that these athletes never see the things we say about them but they do - think of Gabby Douglas and the hair controversy. We tag them in our tweets, they search their names on tumblr, and they know how we react to their losses and failures.
I chose Ana Porgras as an example because I can't help but think that I'm a little responsible for her retirement. Every time we complained about her full twisting Yurchenko, we forgot that she was the 2010 World Champion on Balance Beam. When we criticized her falls at the 2011 World Championships, we forgot about the girl who competed on an injury at the 2010 European Championships just to help Romania earn a medal. Each time I wondered what was going on with the blonde highlights, I forgot that this was just a 17 year old girl competing in the sport that she loved and I loved watching.
The gymternet is opinionated and I don't expect that to change but the least we can do is respect the athletes a little more and respect each other a little more. Whether you completely disagree with the logic behind someone's blog post, wish Montage Monday never existed, or find someone's focus on a specific topic irate, there's no reason to bring it to the point of tension and one person vs. the rest of the gymternet. I'm not trying to stand on a soapbox or pretend that I'm "holier than thou" (I'm not) - I am hoping that we see less gymternet drama amongst ourselves or involving the athletes or coaches. I love going on tumblr and seeing what mood people are in - is it an Aliya Mustafina or an Ana Porgras kind of day? I love talking with you all on twitter and I really like that we can talk about things beyond gymnastics.
Gymternet is Community. Gymternet is an internet family.
I'm sure there will be snide comments about this but I don't mind. As long as you think before you post and as long as you remember one Miss Ana Porgras, that's fine by me.
2010 Worlds TF FX. Watch here or below:
edit 11/4 - Ana Porgras officially retired due to injuries but I can't help but think that if her fans stood behind her, the story might have ended differently. Since her retirement, she has done some modeling in Romania. Porgras still frequents the gym and hangs out with the girls on the National Team often. From LaraE on IGForum:
"I was touched by a segment in the show "Fabrica de Medalii." The coach says that, after retiring, Ana Porgras regularly visits her old gym in Galati and she talks to the girls and motivates them. She has even brought them gifts (leos and souvenirs from her competitions). In another show (here), a little gymnast talks about Ana, recounting how she had sent her 3 leos and a note encouraging her for an upcoming competition and sending her all her love. I think the Ana that we knew and loved is still there, despite all the bad press she has gotten lately. I am so happy to hear people talking so nicely about beautiful Ana!"
And some updated pics of Ana Porgras on tumblr.
Cute gif of Porgras and Bross
Iordache, Porgras, Haidu
Porgras and Iordache