A.J. Gibson

Writer, Producer, Model, Athlete

athlete profiles and features

Brandi Darby and the Complexity of Albino Excellence

This is a story about tears and the many emotions contained within them.

It’s a tale about emotions, the memories coloring them and the sometimes daunting change of identity that comes with accomplishment.

Our heroine? An albino woman named Brandi Darby who became the first legally blind woman to medal at a USA Weightlifting event last July. And if she’s being honest with you, she’ll say it was an honor she wasn’t sure she was ready to accept.

In fact, the day she walked into the American Open Series 2 in Valley Forge, Pa., Brandi didn’t even think that making history was a possibility.

She was too busy taking in her surroundings. [Cont.]

Who Said A Fire Couldn’t Start With Ice?

On a blistering cold November day in Whistler, Canada, Simidele Adeagbo stood atop one of the most threatening skeleton tracks in the world. 

Elite athletes have reached frightening speeds at the Whistling Sliding Center. At the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died in a training crash going at 89 miles per hour, according to reports

But a determined Adeagbo — who had only touched her first skeleton sled in September — was going to try it anyway. The 36-year-old Nigerian was at her first IBSF training camp and her major goal on her first run was not to scream. [Cont.]

Olympic Weightlifter Chuckie Welch Is An Icon For Black Girl Strength

When Olympic weightlifter and snatch American record holder Quiana “Chuckie” Welch stepped onto the platform at the Arnold Classic last March, she did so with more African pizazz than most of the competitors in the room. 

All eyes were on her custom-made, legless singlet: Its kente-like design featured bright orange, green and yellow, while a black meshy fabric laced her arms and shoulders. It was a much more playful version of the classic, monochromatic uniforms most weightlifters wear to meets. Welch and her teammates decided to stitch up something unique for this competition. [Cont.]

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Essays I've Edited

What Happened When I Tried to Play Men’s Professional Soccer

When you’re the only woman playing on a men’s pro soccer team, and you also happen to be a goalkeeper, here’s how things go down [Cont.]

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No Excuses

“Here, take my things.”

That’s the last thing I said before I kicked this kid’s ass. [Cont.]

Five Things You Should Know About Being a First-Time Olympian

The morning they came to my door, I didn’t hear them knocking.

I was sound asleep in my dorm room in the Rio Olympic Village, trying to get in my eight hours before the 100-meter backstroke finals. I had trained 17 years for my Olympic opportunity, and I was one of the favorites to win the gold in that event. I wanted to be fully rested for my race.

I had it all planned out. I was going to wake up with enough time to go through the routine I’ve been following for as long as I can remember, one that I’ve found works for me: eat my peanut butter and jelly, get to the pool early, stretch, swim some laps, practice my flip turns….

But sometimes things don’t go according to plan. [Cont.]

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personal Essays

 

Why I Love My Natural Hair

So here’s the lye:   You can find it right in Aisle 5. It’s the active ingredient of a white chemical cream that sits in mini tubs in the haircare section in your average American drugstore.   Lye is good for taking the kink right out of a nappy head. It’s supposed to give any black girl the long, soft tresses of the brown model smiling on the box. The process is called “hair relaxing.” If your tired old coils need a spring vacation, try brands like “Dark and Lovely” or “African Pride.” These products get right at the roots, and one kit costs only $6.79.   Lye is also used for curing foods like pretzels and olives. It makes a good base for drain cleaners or any agent needed to dispose of large amounts of road kill. Just ask 1939 serial killer Leonarda Cianciulli, who used the chemical to turn three dead bodies into soap. [Cont.}

How My Race Defined My Gender When I Lived In Japan

It's because I'm black, isn't it?

Those were my thoughts as I strolled the sidewalk to my new home in Japan, and a woman swerved her minivan upon seeing me. I remember how her shock made me smile. I remember her fixed stare, the way she fixed her hair, then adjusted the wheel. And I continued to saunter along, knowing my blackness had power. Here it drew attention and brought wonder, and I learned that sometimes it paid to be a token in this country. [Cont.]

What Title IX missed: How the gender-equity law has led to fewer women coaches

I didn’t know that I needed her until it was too late.

Ciara McCormack became the new assistant soccer coach of the varsity team when I was a senior at Yale University. We had never had a female coach before and I thought she was all sorts of cool. Whenever it got cold, for example, she often walked into the locker room wearing a beanie and low-rise sweatpants that screamed soccer swagger. [Cont.]

 

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fitness articles

How Lita Lewis Became A Champion Of Self-Love

When it comes to fitness on social media, we tend to be inundated with the same images: Thin bodies. Flat abs. Tight butts. In short, "perfect" bodies — or at least, to society's standards anyway. On Instagram, the idea of "fit" only looks a certain way, leaving many people — especially women of color — out of the picture.

But Lita Lewis, a fitness influencer based out of L.A., is teaching women how to love their bodies no matter what. With over 500 thousand followers on Instagram, the 35-year-old Aussie has inspired many by using #ThickFit and hosting boot camps all around the country. She wants to show the world that women that "fit" comes in different shapes and sizes.

Lewis is so passionate about what she does because for a long time she didn't fully embrace her muscular frame. It took her some time and she understands what many other women go through when it comes to self-acceptance. [Cont.]

This Is CrossFit Burnout (and How You Overcome It)

If you’re a seasoned CrossFitter, chances are you’ve reached a point where doing “constantly varied functional movements at high intensity” can feel a bit … bleh.

You know those days when you walk into the gym and everything just feels super heavy? Your body. The barbell. Even your gym bag?

But it’s more than that. Emotionally, you just don’t feel present and you’re finding that there are more and more days where you’d rather not WOD. Maybe you’re even bored.

The irony is that as “constantly varied” as CrossFit is, you can still grow tired of it. [Cont.]

THE HEALING HACK: HOW TO RECOVER MUCH FASTER FROM ANY INJURY

Chances are if you are checking out this article, you’re looking for some sort of “Magic Pill” to bounce back from injury. “Magic Pill” meaning:

A special supplement.

A revolutionary stretching technique.

A superfood like Manogsteens (oooh!).

A massage.

A therapeutic puppy.

I’d give you a puppy if I had one.

But to really give you what you came here for, I’m going to have to press pause on any physical solutions you’re pondering. Instead I’ll be your physician, operating on the level of narrative. [Cont.]

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Beauty Articles

The Biggest Supermodel the Year You Were Born

There are some models that transcend the catwalks—through stop-you-in-your-tracks stunning magazine covers to so-charming-you’ll-buy-whatever-they-are-selling-commercials, to history smashing ad campaigns—and who’ve achieved superstardom. These are the most iconic supermodels of the last 31 years. [Cont.]