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Following this summer’s release of the ‘Athlete A’ documentary on Netflix, which dealt with the concealement of sexual abuse within USA gymnastics, British Gymnastics is also now facing damning accusations of a culture of abuse, as children as young as seven are said to have been abused by their coaches.
Four gymnasts who competed at the London 2012 Olympics had previously trained with the City of Liverpool Gymnastics Club between 2008-2019, and all of them have confirmed that they now suffer from anxiety. Many other gymnasts who have also come forward have confirmed they suffer from eating disorders or general issues regarding their weight, partially due to the frequent weighing programme in place.
One of the gymnasts who has come forward, Abbie Craig, described her experience of the Olympics as “not a happy place” and stated that gymnastics turned into a sport that she “absolutely hated”. Another of the gymnast, Amber Leyland, described how she would be scared of attending gymnastics, to which Craig added that it made her feel “phsyically sick”.
The olympians have discussed times when they felt their training regime went too far, to the point where they would be in such extensive pain from injuries that it prevented them from continuing.Craig highlighted a particular instance in which she struggled to complete her routine on the bar due to her finger tips bleeding, however she was forced to continue until a fellow gymnast complained that the bar was covered in Craig’s blood. Leyland discussed an instance in which she heard an injury in her foot but was told to carry on. It took Leyland herself, an 11 year old child at the time, to contact her parents to come and collect her. She was consequently taken to hospital and informed she had broken her foot in four places.
Olympic medalist, Nile Wilson has also criticsed the “culture of abuse” in British gymnastics, describing athetes as being treated like ”pieces of meat”. Wilson states that ‘Athlete A’ made a deep impression on him and described how “there were lots of tears shed” among himself and his teammates following the release of the documentary.
Olympic medallist Amy Tinkler also spoke out, describing how she retired three years after winning bronze at the Rio 2016 Olympics because of her experiences at South Durham Gymnastics Club. Tinkler has described how it has taken nearly 12 months for her complaint against her former club to be formally dealt wth by British Gymnastics, raising concerns that this length of time leaves vulnerable gymnasts at risk.
Various gymnasts are now blaming British Gymnastics, the sport’s governing body, for prioritising success over the wellbeing of individuals.
If you believe you have been a victim of abuse when training at a Gymnastics club, or any sports club or establishment, our experienced abuse team headed by Natalie Marrison are here to help you. For a confidential discussion, please contact email@example.com or telephone 0113 887 1838.