Elite American gymnast Kara Eaker, a key figure in the U.S. gymnastics world and a member of the University of Utah’s women’s gymnastics team, has taken a courageous step in announcing her retirement and withdrawal from the university, citing a troubling experience of verbal and emotional abuse.
Eaker made this announcement through a heartfelt Instagram post, detailing her journey and the impact this abuse has had on her well-being.
At just 20 years old, Eaker has had a remarkable career in gymnastics, being a part of the U.S. gold-medal teams at the 2018 and 2019 world championships, and being named an alternate at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
She has also been an integral part of the Utah team, contributing to their third-place finishes at the NCAA championships in both 2022 and 2023.
Despite her success, Eaker’s journey has not been without its challenges. In her Instagram post, she shared her experiences of verbal and emotional abuse that occurred over her two years of training with the Utah gymnastics team.
She described the detrimental impact this has had on her physical, mental, and emotional health, leading to severe anxiety, depression, insomnia, panic attacks, PTSD, night terrors, and suicidal and self-harm ideation.
Breaking the Silence:
Eaker’s post serves as a powerful voice for those who have been silenced by fear and abuse.
She speaks out not just for herself, but for all the women who are unable to do so, emphasizing the urgent need for change within the system and the way athletes are treated.
She shared details of the abuse, describing “loud and angry outbursts” and “individual coach-athlete meetings” where she was subjected to “condescending, sarcastic and manipulative tactics.”
Eaker also pointed out the lack of support from the university administration, highlighting a disturbing incident where her concerns were dismissed and she was accused of simply not getting along with the coach.
This response, she argues, is a clear example of gaslighting and is indicative of a systemic problem that extends beyond individual coaches.
Questioning the Investigation:
In her post, Eaker challenged the findings of a recent investigation into the head coach of the Utah gymnastics team, Tom Farden.
While the investigation cleared Farden of engaging in severe or egregious abuse, it did find that he made a derogatory comment to a student-athlete.
Eaker criticized the investigation as incomplete and lacking credibility, insisting that crucial evidence was omitted and the descriptions used were inaccurate.
Kara Eaker’s decision to retire and share her story is a bold move in the fight against abuse in sports.
Her experience sheds light on the toxic environments that can exist within elite sports programs and underscores the need for systemic change to protect athletes and ensure their well-being.
As the gymnastics community and wider public digest her revelations, it is hoped that her story will inspire action and contribute to a safer, more supportive environment for all athletes.
See Kira Eaker IG post here: