BLUE SPRINGS, MO (KCTV) -- Terin Humphery was gymnastics royalty and a small-town Missouri girl who grew into an Olympic medalist.

"Walking out there and seeing the Olympic rings all over the Olympic podium and realizing, 'Wow, I really made it to the Olympic games!'" she recalled. Even today, the memory makes her smile.

After her competitive career ended, Humphery was hired by USA Gymnastics, the group that oversees the nation's gymnastics system.

As an athletics representative, she was one of three people who chose the U.S. gymnastics team for the Olympic games. It was the perfect role for a girl who had spent almost her entire life devoted to the sport.

However, that ended this spring when Humphery was abruptly fired because of a Facebook post. The post concerned the difficulty of pushing young athletes to do their best, without stepping over the line.

The post contained a meme that showed football coaches yelling at their players. Humphery wrote, "What champions consider coaching is what the entitled consider abuse."

"I was referring to the fact that I personally was lazy at times during my career," Humphery told KCTV5. "I needed my coaches to push me to work harder. I was not talking about the sexual abuse scandal."

That scandal involved the abuse of dozens of young girls by USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar.

Humphery’s comments were seen by some as being critical of Nassar's victims. USA Gymnastics fired her. She had worked for the organization for just short of 10 years.

"They took it that I'm okay with abuse, okay with physical abuse," Humphery said. "That's actually farthest from my mind."

We asked Humphery whether she had any knowledge of Nassar's abuse. "Absolutely not," she said.

Humphery points out that she spent four and a half years as a police officer in Raymore-Peculiar, Missouri, and that she would never turn a blind eye to abuse of any kind.

In the wake of her firing, Humphery has felt ostracized by some in the gymnastics community. "I went to nationals and the coaches stared at me,” she said. “You don't know what they're thinking, whether or not they support me."

“It's heartbreaking and it's so unfair," Al Fong said. "It [the firing] shocked us. It shocked all of us worldwide, not just here in this gym." That gym is Gage Gymnastics in Blue Springs, where Al and his wife Armine have turned out multiple Olympians, including Humphery.

While Humphery’s posters are still on the wall at Gage and she continues to work at camps there, there are many facilities in the Kansas City area that want nothing to do with Humphery.

"You know, I can't really tell you how many text messages I got from coaches that say, 'I want to support you, but I'm scared what it might do to my gym,'" Humphery said. "That's their livelihood and I completely understand."

Humphery continues to coach around 25 girls, but she feels like she's living her life under a shadow.

“It's devastating because I've worked for 10 years for this and I've given gymnastics my entire life," she told KCTV5. "For them to just throw me away like this, it's very hard."

Newly married and with a baby on the way next year, Humphery is looking to the future while hoping the grit she showed as an athlete will help get her through this difficult time.

Through it all, she continues to look upon her gymnastics experience with a positive attitude.

"In the end, I did get two silver medals and I did get to fulfill my dream, so it was worth it,” she said.

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(1) comment

ArneYoga

So far, most of what #meetoo seems to be accomplishing is ruining the careers of many, a lot of whom were doing or saying something innocuous that was hysterically misinterpreted, while the worst predators and true instigators of abuse go unscathed as they are powerful people and/or couldn't care less about their public shaming. Intolerance of any kind, even when done with "good intentions" or -god forbid- out of vengence, is always wrong.


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