British gymnasts, including Olympians and athletes who claim the sport is riddled with physical and emotional abuse, with some suggesting that their complaints about everyday problems not taken seriously by the governing body.
One former elite rhythmic gymnast who retired after ten years in the sport, told sky news that she was “hitting” coach.
Another young Olympic hopeful said he was intimidated to such an extent that he considered taking his own life and felt abandoned by British gymnastics.
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Meanwhile, a former social worker, told sky news a “culture of fear” exists within the organization in which the interested coaches and parents were too afraid to voice their concerns.
Gymnasts were invited to speaking after a documentary on Netflix the athlete has fully exposed the scale of abuse in gymnastics USA, which allowed a convicted pedophile and former Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar to continue the insults.
Now British athletes say as a toxic culture pervading the sport here.
One former elite rhythmic gymnast who retired after 10 years in the sport described by sustained abuse for several years at the hands of his coach.
“Mental and physical abuse was quite the norm,” she said.
“Our trainer is simulated to the most extreme forms of violence as a method of learning.
“We were taught to fear the trainer more than skill that we’re targeting, and that was the only way to achieve this.
“I never know if it was possible for my level without it, or if I could be even better if I hadn’t been beaten into submission.”
The woman, who is now in her mid-twenties, tells fat shaming is a routine part of the sport, even for young athletes.
“I was 15 years old in an elite gymnastics,” she said.
“My coach me to stand on my top and shorts next to 11-year – old is also the top and shorts.
“They made my squad, my best friends, select all “wrong” with my body, she did not share.
“With every point my coach clung to my body … there is only love handles, thick thighs, a package that is not as prominent as her.”
“Sky news” understands that the athlete, who represented great Britain at the Olympic games in Rio among those who made complaints to British gymnastics on the physical and emotional abuse by his coach.
The other gymnasts who trained at a centre of excellence and hopes to go to the Olympics says an unfavorable environment drove her from the sport.
She filed a complaint to British gymnastics, but argues that it was not processed correctly.
She said, “several gymnasts from the club would be extreme panic attacks, because they were afraid to do the skill or have been exhausted.
“They will just stand in front and cried and begged to go home, but didn’t let her.
“Gymnasts will qualify for getting into the drink, but will get on their phones and call their parents because they couldn’t handle the environment anymore.
“As a result, the coaches threatened to lock our phones away so we couldn’t ask for help from our parents.”
Several gymnasts also told Sky News that they were encouraged to train on existing injuries, which often make them worse.
One girl who is still only 17, said: “We’d been led to believe that our injuries were made, or they actually do not exist.
“They keep asking us, trying to make us believe, our injury actually was not that we were pathetic.
“If we felt the injury during a workout and said to our coaches that they will be angry at us and sometimes throw ice aggressively in our direction – this eventually led to many of us, the gymnasts, just training on injuries, because we were too scared to speak out.
“Many gymnasts now have a long-term injury they can’t recover due to abuse and work through the pain.”
British gymnastics say they are encouraging all athletes to report their unit integrity.
In a statement, they said: “British gymnastics condemns any behavior that is harmful to the well-being of our gymnasts.
“Such actions are completely contrary to our standards of safe coaching. Our positive coaching behavior, which is mandatory for all coaches clearly sets out why such behavior is harmful and unacceptable.
“Our integrity unit investigates all allegations of emotional abuse and bullying, which are reported to us or identified by our national network of social workers club and takes disciplinary measures to prevent recurrence.
“British gymnastics is where each gymnast in the country. There is nothing more important to us than the welfare of our members and we continually strive to create a culture in which people feel that they can raise any issues that they may have.”
This story first appeared on Sky Sports and reproduced with permission.