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Later, when my gymnastics A day without sarcasm probably wouldn’t kill me but why risk it shirt . career was behind me, after all the accolades and the trophies and the gold medals, I would loudly reminisce about it to my friends, teachers, acquaintances, anyone who would listen – a 13-year-old wistfully reflecting on her glory days. But as I grew older, embarrassment crept over me. I wondered what it had meant to dedicate so much of my childhood to a sport that now seemed shamefully girly and unfeminist. This is a sport that first asks women to be graceful and model-thin, then scrutinises their every movement and facial expression for imperfections. The lifecycle of an elite rhythmic gymnast would please the most ardent misogynist. Ideally, you begin as early as possible, so you develop maximum flexibility before the grim reaper (puberty) comes knocking. Then, in the years when you are allegedly at your most beautiful, and certainly at your most emotionally insecure, you are expected to dazzle. Once you are no longer capable of dazzling, you exit the stage. Senior competitive gymnasts commonly retire in their early 20s.At university, I made peace with my childhood passion by presenting it cynically, showing friends photos of myself on the gym floor, clad in makeup and sequins, with an air that said, “Yes, I, too, have semi-read The Second Sex”. Mostly, though, when I looked at these photos, I felt old. One summer, watching yet another round of gymnasts getting their taste of Olympic glory, all of whom seemed to be rudely getting younger and younger, I phoned my dad in a panic, telling him that I had become a has-been. He replied that I was 18, and thus still had plenty left to live for.
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Almost a decade on, I recently searched online for any remnants of my life in rhythmic gymnastics A day without sarcasm probably wouldn’t kill me but why risk it shirt . Gone. I asked my mother if she still had any of the medals. Lost in an old house move. What about that time I was interviewed in the local paper? Gone, gone, gone. That child national champion, so driven and so athletic, feels like another person who somehow inhabited my body decades earlier, before bolting it without warning, shutting the windows and doors and leaving no trace. Was that even me?
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