American gymnast Laurie Hernandez shared her story of mental and emotional abuse from former coach Maggie Haney on Wednesday, hours after Haney was suspended eight years by USA Gymnastics.
Hernandez, 19, won gold in the all-around team competition at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Haney coached Hernandez and fellow gymnast Riley McCusker in Monmouth Junction, N.J. before Hernandez took a two-year hiatus in 2016. Hernandez returned to gymnastics in 2018, but she did so in California, no longer with Haney.
Hernandez detailed consistent verbal and emotional abuse from Haney in an Instagram post on Thursday, noting, "I don't mind sharing my story. Here's to speaking up."
"This kind of behavior and treatment is never okay," Hernandez wrote. "There are some things from my experience that will unfortunately stick with me forever, and I'll always be working to heal from it–but sharing my story gives me a chance to close the chapter, take a deep breath, and start something new."
Earlier this month, Hernandez joined Sports Illustrated's 'Coronavirus + Sports' podcast to discuss her time during quarantine, her ambitions for Tokyo and why she relied heavily on her teammates and friends such as Aly Raisman.
Hernandez said she is currently aiming to join the USA Olympic team in Tokyo in 2021, but "my first priority from the beginning was my happiness, and that was enough for me."