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Controversial meme costs metro Olympian her role with USA Gymnastics

USA Gymnastics
Posted at 10:39 PM, Jun 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-11 23:39:39-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After posting a controversial meme last month, former United States Olympian Terin Humphrey has been removed from her post as an athlete representative with USA Gymnastics.

Humphrey won two silver medals at the 2004 games in Athens before becoming an athlete representative in 2009 for USA Gymnastics.

The position, which led to plenty of travel for Humphrey, put her on the front lines of gymnastics for the country and involved picking teams for competitions.

“Clearly, gymnastics is my passion and I wanted to do whatever I could for these kids,” she told 41 Action News. “I was originally a police officer at the time. I would sometimes work nights and get on a plane and go straight to working at the gym.”

After being elected to the volunteer position, Humphrey was re-elected four years later and saw her term extended.

However, controversy erupted last month when the gymnast posted a meme on her Facebook page that read, “What Champions consider coaching, the entitled consider abuse.”

With USA Gymnastics continuing to navigate through a scandal involving allegations of sexual abuse, the post led to plenty of backlash against Humphrey.

“From I’m garbage to my house is going to be burnt down,” Humphrey said, looking back on the Facebook messages some users sent her way.

Late last month, Humphrey found out the USA Gymnastics Athletes’ Council voted to remove her from her post due to the comments.

“I found out all over the internet I had been fired,” she said. “My reputation has been tarnished. It sucks. There’s no other word.”

In an interview with 41 Action News on Tuesday, the former Olympian said she did not regret posting the meme.

Humphrey believed the post served as a way for her to tell others how coaches helped her during her career.

“I was strictly thinking about my own experience,” she said. “You’re going to be tired some day. If my coach kept me from hurting myself that day, I appreciate every part of it. Was my coach bullying me? Absolutely not.”

Following the controversy and backlash from the post, Humphrey said she never intended the meme to be a message to other gymnasts who have reported sexual abuse allegations.

“When I posted, I didn’t even think of that side of the meme,” she said. “Literally, it was about how I needed to be coached.”

After being reached by 41 Action News, USA Gymnastics issued the following statement:

Last month, USA Gymnastics supported the Athletes’ Council’s decision to remove Terin Humphrey as a women’s athlete representative on the Athletes’ Council and as a member of the athlete selection committee because comments she made do not align with our values and goals. While Terin was a valued member of the Athletes’ Council, some of her statements today about the Athletes’ Council’s decision, the organization, and the leadership of USA Gymnastics do not accurately reflect the situation.  We wish Terin well in her professional pursuits.

The Athletes’ Council also stood by its decision and said the comments the former Olympian made conflicted with the values and goals of the group.

Moving forward, Humphrey hoped others could understand her side of the controversy.

“I’m not sorry because that’s how I feel,” she said. “I hope now that I’m able to speak out and get my voice back I can pick up where I left off.”