NORMAN – Oklahoma sophomore gymnast Maggie Nichols is one of hundreds of athletes who have spoken out in recent months about the extensive abuse suffered at the hands of former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State team doctor, Larry Nassar. Because of her courage and bravery, Nichols, along with fellow survivors, will be awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2018 ESPYS.
“It's such an honor to receive this amazing award,” Nichols said. “I can't even put into words how thankful I am to accept this award with so many strong and courageous women.”
“I can't even put into words how thankful I am to accept this award with so many strong and courageous women.”
– Maggie Nichols
Nichols went public in early January as “Athlete A” – the first gymnast to come forward about the sexual abuse inflicted by Larry Nassar. The abuse began when she was 15 years old, when she was a rising star on the United States national team, aiming for a spot at the Olympics.
Just days before the 2018 season began, Nichols decided to let the world know that she too was a victim, releasing her statement to the public. Her incredible courage and bravery has led Nichols to become an inspiration to her peers and thousands of little girls who have looked up to her since her days as a national team member.
“We are honored to recognize the courage of these women at the 2018 ESPYS, to acknowledge the power of their voices, and to shine a very well-deserved spotlight on what speaking up, fighting back, and demanding accountability can accomplish,” said Alison Overholt, Vice President and Editor in Chief, ESPN The Magazine, espnW, and The ESPYS. “They have shown us all what it truly means to speak truth to power, and through their bravery, they are making change for future generations. By honoring this group who spoke out, we aim to honor all of those who are survivors of abuse.”
Though she went public a week before the Sooners would compete at Georgia in the opening meet of the season, Nichols did not let it distract her from becoming the nation's top gymnast.
In 2018, she held the top spot in the all-around every week of the season, culminating in an NCAA Individual National Championship in the all-around. Nichols added two more national titles on bars and floor. She is the only gymnast to ever post two perfect 10s on every event, becoming the first and only gymnast to post back-to-back “Gym Slams” with a 10.0 on every event in consecutive seasons.
Along with her honors on the national level, Nichols was also the 2018 South Central Region Gymnast of the Year, the 2018 Big 12 Gymnast of the Year and a two-time Big 12 Individual Champion (floor, all-around).
The Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the annual ESPYS has become one of the most prominent, prestigious, and talked-about honors in sports. Having recognized global icons like Muhammad Ali and Nelson Mandela, little-known heroes like Zaevion Dobson and Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, sports legends like Pat Summitt and Billie Jean King, and many more, the award pays tribute to those who find ways through sports to make a difference far beyond the field of play and impact the world in indelible ways. The 2018 ESPYS will air live Wednesday, July 18, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.