Elite competitors and Olympians have claimed that being in the British Gymnastics comes with being physically and emotionally abused, and they also asserted that the complaints about their welfare and mental health went unnoticed or where not taking seriously.
A former elite artistic gymnast who retired after a decade told reporters that she was ‘beaten into submission’ by a coach when she was younger. Another young Olympic hopeful also complained about being bullied to a point where he felt like taking his own life.
A former welfare officer told reporters that, indeed, fear does linger within the organization to the extent that even parents and some coaches who noticed this were too scared to voice their concerns.
After the Netflix documentary about the abuse of USA gymnasts, British gymnasts have also voiced out their experiences with abuse from coaches and trainers.
The Netflix documentary that fully exposes the abuse in USA gymnastics, which allowed Larry Nassar, a pedophile and former Olympic team doctor to continue his hideous acts, has acted as an eye-opener. Nassar is known to have sexually abused more than 260 women and girls.
The former elite gymnast, who is now in her mid-thirties, described the mental and physical abuse she endured as a norm, she also admits to being body-shamed now and then.
“Our coach mimicked the most extreme abuse as if it’s a training method. We were taught to be more scared of our coach than the skill we were attempting, and that was the only way to achieve it” she told reporters “I will never know if it was possible to be my level without it or if I could have been even better if I wasn’t beaten into submission.”
She also recounted how her coach would make her stand with an eleven-year-old in crop top and shorts, how he will make her friends point out everything that was wrong with her body, with each point her coach with grab at her body, her thick thighs and abs that were not as beautiful as that of her friends.
Even an athlete who represented Great Britain at the Rio Olympics has also complained about the treatment they receive at the hands of their coaches.
Another female gymnast who trained with the hopes of going into the Olympics withdrew because of the abusive environment. “Several gymnasts from the club would have extreme panic attacks because they were scared to do a skill or were exhausted, they will just stand in front of the equipment and cry and begged to go home but wouldn’t be allowed to.” She revealed that some of her friends would sneak out to call their parents because they could no longer cope with the environment, but coaches will threaten to lock their phones if they do not conform.
Other gymnasts similarly told reporters that, they sometimes have to train on existing injuries, the reason why they did not speak out even when they got injured was that their coaches found it weak and will throw stuff at them for acting pathetically. A 17-year-old athlete acknowledged the fact that some gymnasts now have long term injuries that might never heal because of the overuse.
This is terrible to know that even these young athletes are being trained as if they are soldiers preparing for war, and what is even sadder is that they are scared to speak up for their freedom.
The governing body has launched an independent review and has encouraged athletes to speak out
You’re wondering what the governing body has to say about all this, according to them, the behaviors of these coaches do not define the organization in any way. They claim to have a ‘Positive Coaching Behaviour Programme’ that is used to train coaches.
The British Gymnastics is also encouraging athletes who have suffered abuse to feel free to speak out or report abuse. ” British Gymnastics is here for every gymnast across the country, there is nothing more important for us than the welfare of our participants, and we continually strive to create a culture where people feel they can raise their concerns that they may have”
They have also launched an independent review into abuse allegations. Jane Mulcahy QC will conduct the review.