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Chalked Up: Inside Elite Gymnastics' Merciless Coaching, Overzealous Parents, Eating Disorders, and Elusive Olympic Dreamsby Jennifer Sey
Synopses & Reviews
Fanciful dreams of gold medals and Nadia Comaneci led Jennifer Sey to become a gymnast at the age of six. She was a natural at the sport, and her early success propelled her family to sacrifice everything to help her become, by age eleven, one of Americas elite,competing at prestigious events worldwide alongside such future gymnastics luminaries as Mary Lou Retton.
But as she set her sights higher and higher—the senior national team, the World Championships, the 1988 Olympics—Sey began to change, putting her needs, her health, and her well-being aside in the name of winning. And the adults in her life refused to notice her downward spiral.
In Chalked Up Sey reveals the tarnish behind her gold medals. A powerful portrait of intensity and drive, eating disorders and stage parents, abusive coaches and manipulative businessmen, denial and the seduction of success, it is the story of a young girl whose dreams would become eclipsed by the adults around her. As she recounts her experiences, Sey sheds light on the destructiveness of our winning-is-everything culture where underage and underweight girls are celebrated and on the need for balance in childrens lives.
"Sey writes of her career in internationally competitive gymnastics, which culminated when she won the 1986 U.S. national championship at age 17. From the start Sey was an underdog, ever the second-best athlete on the team hoping to prove herself with tenacity and toughness. She endured numerous injuries — including a broken femur, which could have ended her career — as well as an eating disorder, depression, isolation and tremendous strain on her family. With each new sacrifice that her parents and brother made to support her, the stakes crept higher, inuring them all to gymnastics' inherent physical and psychological trauma. After claiming the U.S. title, Sey was 'shell-shocked and exhausted,' suddenly robbed of her lifelong motivation. 'I'd always been a fighter, a come-from-behind girl. Now that I was on top, the battle would be unwinnable.' The memoir's poignant glimpses at Sey's adult struggle to reckon with her past are regrettably sparse, and her prose occasionally lapses into wordiness, but overall, she has written a courageous story befitting a comeback kid — a timely release for the 2008 Olympics." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
The 1986 national gymnastics champion and a seven-time U.S. National team member, Jennifer Sey is a graduate of Stanford University. She lives with her husband and two sons in San Francisco.
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