USA Gymnastics' Li Li Leung Throws Support Behind Athletes
Following Simone Biles' criticism of USA Gymnastics this week, USAG President & CEO Li Li Leung said that she believes "giving agency to all involved -- from athletes to coaches to parents to club owners -- isn’t just encouraged but required" for the NGB to be successful, according to Will Graves of the AP. Leung, speaking Thursday at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in K.C., stressed that speaking out "isn’t reserved for the sport’s biggest star." She said, "Historically, our organization has silenced our gymnasts and I am 100% supportive of giving our athletes a voice. Our athletes should be able to say what they feel and be comfortable doing so. I understand that we have let down many athletes." Leung said she and Biles "chatted briefly about setting up a time to talk in depth after the national championships." Leung said she has "spoken with more than 400 members of the gymnastics community" in an "attempt to create an open dialogue." Moving forward, USAG is "beefing up its staff to deal with the long road ahead." Current job openings include a "chief programming officer, a vice president for Safe Sport and a vice president of athlete health and wellness, a position Leung drew upon her own personal experiences to help create" (AP, 8/8).
LOOKING FOR SUPPORT: In DC, Liz Clarke notes with USAG corporate sponsors such as P&G, AT&T, Under Armour, Kellogg’s, Hershey’s and Hilton having "severed ties in the wake" of the Nassar scandal, the interior of Sprint Center this week "resembles a relative blank canvas for the U.S. championships." Only the event name is "plastered on signage boards, along with USAG’s logo and small advertising notices for Xfinity and athletic equipment maker AAI." Regarding the loss of sponsors, Leung said that USAG has chosen "not to solicit corporate support 'until we got our house in order.'" She noted that Nike "agreed to outfit U.S. gymnasts for competition" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/9).