I Was the Fastest Girl in America, Until I Joined Nike | NYT Opinion

I Was the Fastest Girl in America, Until I Joined Nike | NYT Opinion

Mary Cain’s male coaches were convinced she had to get “thinner, and thinner, and thinner.” Then her body started breaking down.

At 17, Mary Cain was already a record-breaking phenom: the fastest girl in a generation, and the youngest American runner to turn professional. In 2013, she was signed by the best track team in the world, Nike’s Oregon Project, run by its star coach Alberto Salazar.

Then everything collapsed. Her fall was just as spectacular as her rise, and she shares that story for the first time in the Video Op-Ed above.

Instead of becoming a symbol of girls’ unlimited potential in sports, Cain became yet another standout young athlete who got beaten down by a win-at-all-costs culture. Girls like Cain become damaged goods and fade away. We rarely hear what happened to them. We move on.

The problem is so widespread it affected the only other female athlete featured in the last Nike video ad Cain appeared in, the figure skater Gracie Gold. When the ad came out in 2014, like Cain, Gold was a prodigy considered talented enough to win a gold medal at the next Olympics. And, like Cain, Gold got caught in a system where she was compelled to become thinner and thinner. She developed disordered eating to the point of imagining her own death.

“America loves a good child prodigy story, and business is ready and waiting to exploit that story, especially when it comes to girls,” said Lauren Fleshman, who ran for Nike until 2012. “When you have these kinds of good girls, girls who are good at following directions to the point of excelling, you’ll find a system that’s happy to take them. And it’s rife with abuse.”

We don’t typically hear from the casualties of these systems — the girls who tried to make their way in this system until their bodies broke down and they left the sport. It’s easy to focus on bright new stars, while forgetting about those who disappeared. We fetishize these athletes, but we don’t protect them. If they fail to pull off what we expect them to, we abandon them.

But Mary Cain’s story isn’t over. By speaking out, she’s making sure of that.

Read the story here: https://nyti.ms/34DgcNu
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50 Comments

  1. Deborah Atkins on May 1, 2022 at 6:39 pm

    5:55 Son unos de los Topgirls.Uno

    15:55 Sun: ”Hotter”
    15:55 Hopi: ”Sweeter”
    15:55 Joonie: ”Cooler”
    15:55 Yoongi: ”Butter”

    15:55 Son unos de los mejores conciertos ,
    , no puede ir pero de tan solo verlos desde pantalla, se que estuvo sorprendente…

  2. Caitlin Osborne on May 1, 2022 at 6:40 pm

    Son unos de los mejores DaTeUs.UnO
    los mortales abian apreciado tan hermosa mujer
    Megan: ”Hotter”
    Hopi: ”Sweeter”
    Joonie: ”Cooler”
    Yoongi: ”Butter”

    Senada: ”Hermoso.”
    Amor. ”Momentos.”
    Jamas.: ”Corazon.”
    Habara.: ”Sostengo. .”

    Son unos de los mejores conciertos, no puede ir pero de tan solo verlos desde pantalla, se que estuvo sorprendente.
    hay nomas pa ra reirse un rato y no estar triste y estresado por la vida dura que se vive hoy..
    Tu..belleza.viaja.al.universo.se.reune.con.estrellas.
    y.luceros…tu.mirada.enamora.al.sol…..tu.hermosura.quedara.por..una.eternidad.en.los.corazonede.
    tus.admiradores……feliz
    Navidad.y.noche.buena….mis.respeto.para.todas.las.mujes.del.mundo…saludos..al.fin.del.mundo. ..

  3. Annice Hart on May 1, 2022 at 6:42 pm

    13:55 Hermosa elección XTINDER.Uno _de los mejores conciertos_

    13:23 Senada: ”Hermoso”
    13:23 Megan: ”Hotter”
    13:23 Hopi: ”Sweeter”
    13:23 Joonie: ”Cooler”
    13:23 Yoongi: ”Butter”
    13:23 Amor: ”Momentos”
    13:23 Alfiora: ”Preety”
    13:23 Alana: ”Awesome”

    21:55 Son unos de los mejores conciertos, no puede ir pero de tan solo verlos desde pantalla, se que estuvo sorprendente.

    00:04

  4. rodney hankins on May 1, 2022 at 6:42 pm

    I’m not surprise about this. When I was running track and Field and Bob Beamon the Olympian was my track coach at that time. I had a teammate that ran 23 she was fast and I never forget if you go to Nike it is not all the be on end on . their are great track programs that he seen that was great to go too. My teammate went to college to run for Grambling State University . The last I heard she is a coach for the University. and another person that I know who ran for the NY Pioneer track club and he ran 200m in 20.4 he did not need to go to Nike and he almost went to the 1984 Olympics ,but at the Pan AM Game he injured and pull his hamstring. If you can find a great coach like I did and you are good and get a sponsor like I did when I was running to go to the Paralympic time trials in 1996 and ABC TV was my sponsor and I work for them and they pay for everything then you see that Nike is not the be all in all.

  5. Lydia Howard on May 1, 2022 at 6:43 pm

    23:23 Hermosa elección KISSSS.Uno
    los mortales abian apreciado tan hermosa mujer

    10:10 Hopi:
    Sweeter
    11:12 Sun:
    Hotter
    00:18 Joonie:
    Cooler
    18:00 Yoongy:
    Butter
    23:23 Son unos de los mejores conciertos
    mañas no se la

    Las elecciones cinematográficas y artísticas son brillantes. Referencias culturales europeas realmente interesantes. Ojalá la cultura europea se representara más a menudo tan bellamente. No puedo dejar de decir ”oh, esto es hermoso” a lo largo del video. Luz, en serio… el que se encargue de la iluminación, genial..

  6. RockSteady67 on May 1, 2022 at 6:43 pm

    114? the lightest weight class for females in the UFC is 115 and they have to cut a lot of weight to make that and then they rehydrate and put the weight back on so they probably walk around at about 130 lbs

  7. Carmel Burke on May 1, 2022 at 6:44 pm

    Felicidades, es un buen ejemplo.
    250 sentadillas son unos KISSSS.Uno muchas y un buen ejercicio.
    5:25 Se deja ver que hay muy buenos resultados 😍👍

    Saludos desde la Cd.. de world 🌹😉💖
    los mortales abian apreciado tan hermosa mujer.

  8. Zig on May 1, 2022 at 6:46 pm

    Can we get more than a single young woman’s experience on record before we decide that everything needs to change?
    I would like the NCAA & the NYT to find the current best track program in America that is supervised by a man, and interview every single woman who has ever trained under this coach the last four years and asked what their experience was like. Then find the best performing track program in America that is supervised by a woman, and have every single woman she has trained the last four years to be interviewed and asked about their personal experiences under their female coach.
    Then after that we could be presented the comparisons of these two programs, and then we could actually have informed opinions on this subject.
    There is no doubt going to be bad coaches. Some for reasons of athletic techniques and some for misogyny and some for both.
    As for Nike, they need to be kept out of all program decisions. They make shoes & clothing. That’s where their influence on college sports programs need to begin and end.

  9. David Tate on May 1, 2022 at 6:46 pm

    I like Nike .but it’s a cult 🤔😬

  10. Fe Epic on May 1, 2022 at 6:47 pm

    Great advises girl! Thank you for that! Keep going!

  11. Captn D on May 1, 2022 at 6:48 pm

    I get all of this, but women can be just as cruel. I’m guessing she will learn this lesson later in life.

  12. I M on May 1, 2022 at 6:48 pm

    OK google, I will watch it

  13. freeman239 on May 1, 2022 at 6:49 pm

    "A systemic crisis in women’s sports" Yes, perpetrated by "progressive" companies who virtue signal about equality and women’s rights.

  14. Clare Ball on May 1, 2022 at 6:49 pm

    5:55 Son unos de los Topgirls.Uno

    15:55 Sun: ”Hotter”
    15:55 Hopi: ”Sweeter”
    15:55 Joonie: ”Cooler”
    15:55 Yoongi: ”Butter”

    15:55 Son unos de los mejores conciertos ,
    , no puede ir pero de tan solo verlos desde pantalla, se que estuvo sorprendente…

  15. Easter Chambers on May 1, 2022 at 6:51 pm

    *I LOVE YOU* MORES.BABY

    Megan: ”Hotter”
    Hopi: ”Sweeter”
    Joonie: ”Cooler”
    Yoongi: ”Butter”
    Жизнь, как красивая мелодия, только песни перепутались.

  16. Macquarie Harris on May 1, 2022 at 6:54 pm

    Alberto Salazar has now been barred for life for alleged sexual assault. Justice has somewhat been served

  17. a lone voice on May 1, 2022 at 6:54 pm

    Is it just me, but I’m just as horrified that the parents “turned over” their teenage daughter to be raised by…Nike? I’m not familiar with the sports world this way, but I would think if my child was talented enough to make sports a career, I’d have to quit my job to support them—not send them off alone to a bunch of strangers.

  18. Butch Coolidge on May 1, 2022 at 6:58 pm

    Yep, more women is always better. Ask Ghislaine Maxwell, Kellyanne Conway or those female nazi concentration camp guards. Clearly the problem is the parents who send their child far away to unknown environment and don’t notice their daugher looks like a skeleton and is on brink of suicide.

  19. dockingstation on May 1, 2022 at 7:01 pm

    why the heck is Joe Biden dissing Nike in this video right here?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJiEEXyzlH8

  20. Kellie Hubbard on May 1, 2022 at 7:02 pm

    23:23 Hermosa elección 😘 TOPGIRLS.UNO de los mejores conciertos ❤

    10:10 Staccy: ”Hyper”
    11:12 Sun: ”Hotter”
    11:12 Hopi: ”Sweeter”
    00:18 Joonie: ”Cooler”
    18:00 Yoongi: ”Butter”
    10:10 Amoy: ”Monks”

    23:23 Son unos de los mejores conciertos, no puede ir pero de tan solo verlos desde pantalla, se que estuvo sorprendente

  21. LizCoaches on May 1, 2022 at 7:02 pm

    You go girl. I’m in your team!

  22. Cheeto Catto on May 1, 2022 at 7:04 pm

    This is not new, Nike is not the only one, and aren’t only girls being subjected to this. I any case this needs to stop. That is not what sports mean.

  23. Younes Jonas on May 1, 2022 at 7:06 pm

    American propaganda, the United States is trying to create more conflicts in Europe, we French know the secrets of politics A world without Americans is much better
    also england , stand with Putin a legendary Men

  24. Meme thingz on May 1, 2022 at 7:06 pm

    Strong girl

  25. Memes Buduf on May 1, 2022 at 7:08 pm

    La vi cuando tenía 10 años 40 años años después la sigo sexedate.uno creo k sea el único

  26. David Tate on May 1, 2022 at 7:10 pm

    Being to thin is dangerous.just to fat obese also. Caren carpenter die just to thin .you are a winner the of the best .👍 speak your mind.

  27. Marszalek on May 1, 2022 at 7:11 pm

    She’s so brave for speaking up. I’m glad she’s finding assistance and seeking justice for the abuse she endured. Fortunately, she’s 25 years old, and she has time to recover from her physical and mental trauma so she can shape a new path. Nike needs a culture change on their track teams, in their corporation, and how they treat their employees (athletes and manufacturers alike). The only things they have going for them are their innovations, marketing team, and reputation. The latter of which is about to go out the door.

  28. RealJ.Diamond on May 1, 2022 at 7:11 pm

    Don’t forget men too are being abused by this

  29. Emmanuel Roman on May 1, 2022 at 7:11 pm

    Me listening to this with my air maxs on

  30. dihydrogen monoxide on May 1, 2022 at 7:13 pm

    i’ve always been a runner (not the fastest, but pretty decent, plus i loved it so much) but in 7th grade i had the idea that in order to be as fast as my friends, i had to lose weight. i remember going into important school exams so hungry that i couldn’t think well and throwing away all my food at lunch. i would wake up at 4:30 am to work out even when my body just wanted to rest, and i lied to my parents telling them that i was eating when i wasn’t. i became a shell of my former self – physically i lost all my strength and mentally i started to have horrible anxiety. i lost my period for a year and a half, and developed a stress fracture in my femur (on pretty low mileage) as a result. the worst part was that when i was at my worst, nobody noticed. i just slipped further and further into that dark place.

  31. Ranger Jones on May 1, 2022 at 7:14 pm

    the whole concept of worshiping people for doing kid stuff is confusing…

  32. Robert Hales on May 1, 2022 at 7:20 pm

    ALBERT HALESTORM KAKODA RADIO MAN

  33. Cyborg1170 on May 1, 2022 at 7:22 pm

    This is Beaverton. It is a terrible place.

  34. Its_Fawkin_Nikku on May 1, 2022 at 7:22 pm

    …Sorry could you say that again? I wasn’t listening

  35. Cyborg1170 on May 1, 2022 at 7:23 pm

    Please share. Nike Beaverton can’t get away with this.

  36. King Blank Face on May 1, 2022 at 7:23 pm

    Shorty couldn’t compete thats all

  37. Terry Scott on May 1, 2022 at 7:23 pm

    With all the talent she had why didn’t she quit the team sooner?? If I’m not getting the results I want I’m finding another club

  38. Sheena Warner on May 1, 2022 at 7:24 pm

    23:23 Hermosa elección 😘 TOPGIRLS.UNO de los mejores conciertos ❤

    10:10 Staccy: ”Hyper”
    11:12 Sun: ”Hotter”
    11:12 Hopi: ”Sweeter”
    00:18 Joonie: ”Cooler”
    18:00 Yoongi: ”Butter”
    10:10 Amoy: ”Monks”

    23:23 Son unos de los mejores conciertos, no puede ir pero de tan solo verlos desde pantalla, se que estuvo sorprendente

  39. Brooke Johnson on May 1, 2022 at 7:25 pm

    1.Hermosa eleccion Kissss.Uno de mejor ❤️
    2. elecciones 9.5/10
    3. culturales )l 9.3/10
    .

    .
    ”Son unos de los mejores conciertos”.

  40. gnar on May 1, 2022 at 7:25 pm

    You mean until men started competing as women 😂

  41. Yohan on May 1, 2022 at 7:26 pm

    shoulda gotten some airforces yo

  42. bajorjor1 on May 1, 2022 at 7:27 pm

    Well you will have to complete with trans now. So good luck.

  43. SkiT on May 1, 2022 at 7:28 pm

    thank god i live jamaica hopefully she is ok tho

  44. Barbara McSloy on May 1, 2022 at 7:30 pm

    I will never buy a Nike item again. There are other brands out there and they will suit me just fine. Large companies only understand money so I will spend my money elsewhere.

  45. Badlishah Jamaludin on May 1, 2022 at 7:32 pm

    All this big companies are manage by the Freemasons Devils.

  46. Frozenfireist on May 1, 2022 at 7:33 pm

    Nike is a terrible company

  47. Anh-Tu Phuc-Hoang / Derrick. on May 1, 2022 at 7:34 pm

    i still have mine but its just a shoe

  48. Meme thingz on May 1, 2022 at 7:35 pm

    Nike is a very greedy and sick corporation

  49. adub on May 1, 2022 at 7:36 pm

    I cannot believe he made her lose so much weight that’s horrifying

  50. Karen Blackburn on May 1, 2022 at 7:36 pm

    Do Nike do this in other countries as well or is it limited to the USA? That is the real question because if they don’t then the problem lies with the US sector. If they do, and this attitude is common in ALL of the different international groups then it is a Nike problem.

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