British Olympians Becky and Ellie Downie say they’ve suffered from abusive behaviour in gymnastics coaching for a few years, including their voices to a rising variety of gymnasts coming ahead with comparable complaints.
The sisters stated coaches pressured them to drop extra pounds and overtrain, which took psychological and bodily tolls. They have been impressed to inform their story after former teammates did the identical.
“Talking out is one thing we have each felt we actually wanted to do for a very long time now, however in fact, we have been afraid to take action,” they wrote in a letter posted Thursday on their respective Twitter accounts.
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Each ladies represented Britain within the 2016 Olympic Video games however their success has come at a excessive value, they stated, describing the normalization of abusive behaviour.
Twenty-eight-year-old Becky stated she was referred to as “mentally weak” for questioning her coaching routine in 2018. She then injured her ankle in “a direct consequence of the unsafe coaching.” Her 20-year-old sister stated a nutritionist required her to ship every day footage of herself carrying simply underwear to show she wasn’t gaining weight. She was 14 years outdated at the moment.
“This unending deal with my weight has left deep scars which can by no means be healed, I believe,” Ellie wrote.
Whereas travelling overseas with the nationwide group, they lived in concern of coaches looking out their baggage for meals.
“To today we nonetheless conceal meals for the concern of it being discovered,” Ellie wrote.
‘Tradition of concern’ promotes silence
British Gymnastics CEO Jane Allen this week introduced an impartial assessment of claims of mistreatment. She stated the British Gymnastics Integrity Unit already exists to research allegations and that there are welfare officers across the nation.
“Nevertheless, it’s clear that gymnasts didn’t really feel they may increase their considerations to British Gymnastics and it’s important that an impartial assessment helps us higher perceive why, so we are able to take away any boundaries as rapidly as doable,” Allen stated.
“There’s nothing extra necessary for British Gymnastics than the welfare of our gymnasts at each degree of our sport and we’ll frequently attempt to create a tradition the place folks really feel they’ll increase any considerations that they could have,” she added.
Nevertheless, three-time Olympian Louis Smith stated British Gymnastics should do a greater job of encouraging athletes to boost considerations with out concern of repercussions. The 31-year-old Smith, who has gained 4 Olympic medals, stated there is a “tradition of concern” that forestalls gymnasts from talking out.
“I owe it to the folks which are wanting to return out however are too nervous, maybe this may assist,” Smith stated in a video posted on his Instagram account.
‘This can be a gymnastics tradition drawback’
Becky Downie, who additionally competed within the 2008 Olympic Video games, stated circumstances have improved since her 2018 damage.
“We’re additionally not routinely weighed and are inspired to eat correctly to assist our efficiency and restoration,” she wrote. “This tradition change has inspired us to proceed utilizing our voice as a device for good, as we have seen the optimistic results of doing so.”
The sisters stated it isn’t only a British drawback.
“And what’s clear from talking to many various gymnasts from everywhere in the world, this can be a gymnastics tradition drawback, versus only a nationwide one,” they wrote.
In the USA, ladies got here ahead towards Larry Nassar, the osteopathic doctor who in his 29 years because the USA Gymnastics ladies’s group’s physician used medical remedy as a guise for molesting lots of of younger athletes. He was sentenced to 40 to 125 years in jail in 2018