Rebecca Liu in the Guardian Long Read: “‘A lesson in loss, humility and absurdity’: how rhythmic gymnastics took over my childhood”

“When I was six, a chance encounter with rhythmic gymnastics – all ribbons, sequins and smiles – opened up a sublime, sometimes cruel new world. By 12, I had quit. What had it all meant?

Every four years, the same argument plays out. The Olympics reminds the public of the existence of rhythmic gymnastics and the public scoffs at this ridiculous spectacle, with its “ribbon dancing”, its sequins, its extravagant bending and pirouetting. Where artistic gymnastics – the one with the beam and the bars, the one with triple backflips and the constant risk of broken bones – is dignified and athletic, rhythmic gymnastics is frilly and absurd. How is this even a sport? Why is it part of the Olympics? These are the usual criticisms. In return, embattled admirers will point out that rhythmic gymnastics is extremely difficult, actually. There is immense skill involved in those backbends and leaps; besides, have you tried throwing and catching a ball while holding your foot above your head?”

You can read the rest of Rebecca Liu’s long read here.