Gymnast Aly Raisman Poses Naked for ESPN
The 21-year-old Olympic gymnast is one of several athletes going nude for ESPN The Magazine’s annual Body Issue, showing off her impressive 5-ft., 2-in., 115-lb. frame while opening up about life post-London.
“Every day is a challenge,” she says. “Even though at the 2012 Olympics we were so happy to win the gold medal, every day is not like that. I think people don’t understand that; people don’t see that side of the sport – the frustration, how much it takes a toll on your body, and mentally as well.”
Aly Raisman, who made it to the finals of Dancing with the Stars season 16, admits she took a year-long break from her sport following the games – “After one Olympics, most people are just burnt out,” she explains – but hasn’t ruled out competing in Rio next summer.
“I’ll be 22 in the Olympics year. If I make the team, I’ll be the oldest U.S. gymnast,” she says. “My body is a little bit more achy than it was before, but at the same time I feel like I’m smarter now and able to understand the recovery process. I always joke that I’m 21 going on 50.”
It’s a body she cherishes – and protects. “I’ve never had an eating disorder, and I’m proud of that,” she says. And “instead of being insecure about my muscles, I’ve learned to love them. I don’t even think of it as a flaw anymore because it’s made me into the athlete that I am. I think imperfection is beauty.”
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Still, there are times when she has to remind herself to have confidence. “My coaches always tell me I’m chicken,” she reveals. “I’m really afraid to do a lot of stuff in gymnastics. It looks easy or fun, but when you’re trying to learn all these crazy skills, it can be a little terrifying. When I actually think about how narrow the beam is or how high the bars or or how much it hurts to fall, that’s what freaks me out.”