Filmed within the months main as much as the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Peacock’s docuseries Golden: The Journey of USA’s Elite Gymnasts offers key perception into the stress that comes with being a gymnast on the elite degree. The Olympics could also be over, however Golden stays extremely related, particularly following Simone Biles’ withdrawal from the vast majority of her Olympic occasions with the intention to give attention to her psychological well being and get better from “the twisties.”
Biles’ resolution sparked a wider dialog about athletes’ psychological well being and the excessive ranges of strain they face of their respective sports activities. These themes run by way of Golden, making it a crucial watch that’s rendered much more highly effective when seen now, in hindsight.
The collection paperwork 5 gymnasts of their quests to achieve the 2020 Olympic group: Laurie Hernandez, Morgan Hurd, Sunisa Lee, Konnor McClain, and MyKayla Skinner. Every of those Olympic hopefuls faces the gauntlet of camps and competitions main as much as the Olympic trials, in addition to their very own distinctive challenges.
Hurd and Lee are each fighting accidents, with Hurd specifically dealing with a decent restoration schedule after a number of elbow surgical procedures. Skinner is returning to elite gymnastics after her profession on the NCAA degree. Hernandez, who was a member of the 2016 Olympic group, is making a comeback of her personal after years away from the game.
Oh, they usually’re doing all of this throughout a pandemic.
Golden doesn’t shrink back from the influence the COVID-19 pandemic had on the Tokyo Olympics and the gymnasts attempting to make the group. The pandemic is a supply of nice exterior stress, and it places their desires in flux. Having an entire further yr to coach is offered as each a blessing and a curse: It might permit these gymnasts to grasp new, more durable routines, or it might lead to additional bodily pressure and damage. For McClain, although, the postponement presents a chance.
Golden walks a high quality line all through: exhilaration vs. heartbreak, the euphoria of a caught touchdown vs. the years of sacrifice and ache it took to get there.
16-year-old McClain wouldn’t have been eligible for the Olympics had they been held as recurrently scheduled. With the additional yr, she will get an earlier shot at attaining her lifetime purpose. In one in all Golden‘s most compelling — and harrowing — storylines, McClain tries to suit three years of coaching (her unique plan had been to give attention to the 2024 Paris Olympics) into one with the intention to stand an opportunity towards the opposite gymnasts.
All the ladies Golden follows are world-class athletes. Every episode options them in observe or in competitors, pulling off death-defying strikes that boggle the thoughts. These are expertise they’ve constructed up over a lifetime and sacrificed a lot for, all within the hopes of reaching the Olympics. Their drive is crystal clear of their interviews and in how onerous they push themselves bodily. You’ll root for each single one in all them to make Staff USA.
Nonetheless, in case you have any familiarity with the Tokyo Olympics, you will know that solely Lee and Skinner change into Olympians. Lee goes on to win the title of all-around champion, the primary Hmong American gymnast to take action, and Skinner wins the silver medal on vault. Whereas it’s exhilarating to see them succeed in any case their onerous work, it is simply as heartbreaking to look at Hernandez, Hurd, and McClain lose out on the chance of a lifetime.
Golden walks this high quality line all through: exhilaration vs. heartbreak, the euphoria of a caught touchdown vs. the years of sacrifice and ache it took to get there. Gymnasts’ dad and mom focus on how a lot cash they’ve poured into gymnastics within the hopes of their baby making it to the Olympics. Bodily accidents abound, evident in all the pieces from the surgical procedure scars on Hurd’s elbow to a montage of gymnasts falling in competitors.
Then there’s the psychological and emotional strain. Hurd and McClain chortle over FaceTime as they recall how McClain used to throw up into her coach’s arms earlier than meets, or how Hurd would get bloody noses. Notably heart-wrenching is Hernandez’s description of the emotional abuse she confronted by the hands of her former coach, and the way she used to suppose it was regular. And naturally, there’s the ever-present reminder of the abuse a whole bunch of gymnasts confronted by the hands of Larry Nassar throughout his time as a health care provider for USA Gymnastics.
Watching Hernandez, Hurd, Lee, McClain, and Skinner navigate these bodily and psychological challenges and nonetheless handle to carry out at their degree is nothing wanting inspirational. Golden does give attention to their struggles and sacrifices, nevertheless it additionally focuses on their successes. When these gymnasts smile triumphantly after nailing a routine, or their members of the family cheer from the sidelines, Golden finds the enjoyment in gymnastics. Nonetheless, with that pleasure comes questions of how you can higher defend these outstanding athletes as they battle tooth and nail to achieve their objectives.
Golden: The Journey of USA’s Elite Gymnasts Golden: The Journey of USA’s Elite Gymnasts is streaming on Peacock.