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Why Aly Raisman's mom told her, 'If you want to stop now, it's OK'

Why Aly Raisman's mom told her, 'If you want to stop now, it's OK'

The 2012 Olympic gymnast's parents "didn't necessarily want me to come back" for Rio, Raisman said. 

"I can't imagine what it's like to watch your kid compete at a big competition when they know how hard I work."

Aly Raisman

Aly Raisman’s parents, Lynn and Rick, have become slightly famous for their squirming, anxious reactions to their daughter’s gymnastics routines. They’re a fixture in the stands, holding their breath through every flip and screaming encouragement for every stuck dismount. You can almost see them sprout a new gray hair every time Raisman does a release on the uneven bars.

But it’s not just an amusing bit of nervous acting for the cameras. It’s the indisputable fact that being the parent of an Olympic gymnast is really, really hard. And behind the scenes, Raisman says, her gymnastics training isn’t any easier on her family.

“I think it’s been just as stressful for my parents as it is for me,” Raisman said of her second attempt to make the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team. The entire Raisman clan will appear in the docu-series Gold Medal Families, premiering tonight on Lifetime at 9 p.m. ET. Raisman told US Weekly that the show will let her fans "see the reality and how much I train and how much I rely on my family." 

“It’s so hard, it takes a village,” she said after the Secret U.S. Classic in Hartford, Conn. “They’re there every single day when I get home from workout and I’m exhausted and don’t feel good. And I try to hide from them if something’s bothering me, I don’t want to tell them. Because it’s just like any mom, my mom’s protective and my dad’s the same; they just want the best for me and they get very nervous.”

While Raisman’s dedication to sleeping has earned her the nickname “Grandma Aly” among her younger teammates, it’s her parents who make sure she doesn’t exhaust herself past the point of safety. She told reporters at the P&G Championships that after some workouts she calls her father to come pick her up at the gym because she’s too tired to drive home.

They weren’t sure at first if it was a good idea for Raisman to return to the gym after she took a year off from gymnastics post-2012 London Olympics, where she won three medals.

“I think at first they didn’t really necessarily want me to come back, because they were like, ‘You’ve done so well, and it was so hard the first time. And it will be probably harder the second time because it’s hard enough doing it once let alone twice.’”

Raisman said her parents have been instrumental in supporting her run at the 2016 Olympic team—even if that means giving her permission to quit gymnastics entirely.

“Even now, if I have a bad day my mom says, ‘If you want to stop now it’s OK, it’s 100% up to you.’ Obviously that’s not an option, but I feel like back in December, it was such a hard time because you’re so close and yet it feels so far from the Olympics. You’re testing out new routines and so it feels frustrating.

“But they said whatever you want to do, we're always supporting you.”

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