OU women's gymnastics: Maggie Nichols adds two more 10s as Oklahoma dominates West Virginia, TWU

Paxson Haws / For The Transcript

Oklahoma's Maggie Nichols celebrates her vault routine during the Sooners meet against West Virginia and Texas Woman’s University this past season. 

The official trailer begins with Maggie Nichols in a place she is comfortable, in the gym working through a routine.

From there, it winds through the Indianapolis Star newsroom, where an investigation helped uncovered the abuse Nichols and many others suffered while under USA Gymnastics’ watch.

Later, there are shots of more athletes in gyms, then in a courtroom, and finally back to Nichols as she glides across a gym mat.

The Netflix documentary “Athlete A” — the court document name initially describing Nichols as the first person to report former team doctor Larry Nassar’s abuse — will premiere Wednesday, providing a deeper look into how his victims became survivors, then advocates.

Nichols revealed herself as “Athlete A” in 2018 during her sophomore season at Oklahoma, with a powerful public letter written with assistance from, among others, OU coach K.J. Kindler.

Since then, Nichols has made her case as perhaps the best NCAA gymnast of all-time, setting scores of records in the wake of the USA Gymnastics scandal.

“I’m really excited for it to finally come out,” Nichols told The Transcript of the documentary. “I’ve already watched it. It’s very powerful, and I think it will be very educational for people and hopefully help other people as well. A little anxious and nervous, but I’m excited. It’s something we’ve worked hard on.”

It’s the culmination of many interviews and more camera time than Nichols was comfortable with at times. Cameras were not around her 24/7, but enough that sometimes it was “quite difficult.”

“It’s a hard subject to talk about, so some of the interviews I didn’t really want to do,” Nichols said. “Sometimes I’d fight with my mom like, ‘No, I don’t know want to do it.’ But I had to do it. I had to make the documentary.”

Nichols has been in Norman since the pandemic ended her senior season at OU prematurely. The Sooners were ranked No. 1 the entire year and would have been the heavy favorite to capture their second consecutive national championship.

She was the two-time defending all-around champion and led the country with five Perfect 10s this season. With 22 for her career, she was on the heels of the NCAA record 28 achieved by UCLA’s Jamie Dantzcher.

Nichols’ career has been defined by dominant gymnastics. But her life is shaped by heroics off the mat.

She first reported Nassar’s abuse to USA Gymnastics in 2015, but the team did not turn over the allegations to federal authorities until a third athlete came forward. Almost five weeks had passed since Nichols’ report.

Her account ignited the case that would put Nassar in prison and open people’s eyes to arguably the largest sexual assault scandal in American history.

Directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, the documentary details how USA Gymnastics failed to report abuse and fostered the environment where it took place, at coaches Bela and Martha Karoly’s ranch in Texas.

“‘Athlete A’” is compellingly told by Cohen and Shenk so that we experience the pain and courage of these survivors, but also glimpse the big-picture backdrop of what occurred,” writes Variety film critic Owen Gleiberman.

Nichols, who will serve as a student-assistant coach for OU next season as she continues her education, is proud of her role in the project.

“I think it’ll be very important when it comes out,” she said. “I’m very excited for people to see it and the impact it’ll have.”


Tyler Palmateer

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tpalmateer@normantranscript.com

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