Wednesday, 19 Jun 2024

Gymnastics Ireland in racism row after young black competitor skipped for medal

Gymnastics Ireland was accused of racism after resurfaced footage showed a young black girl being missed out during a medal ceremony.

The video from March last year shows the young competitor at the end of a GymStart event at the National Indoor Arena, in Dublin, smiling eagerly as she waited to be handed her award.

But the official is seen clearly skipping over her in the line despite each of the white girls alongside her receiving their medals.

The official then walks off holding the last remaining medal at the end of the clip.

The girl’s mum told the Irish Independent the family were ‘very upset’ at how their daughter had been treated by Gymnastics Ireland, and that they believe the snub was due to racism.

‘We are often the only black family at gymnastics events and this has been very hurtful for us,’ said the mum, who chose to remain anonymous.

‘Now eight million people have seen the video. From Pakistan to Ethiopia they can see this was wrong but Gymnastics Ireland still can’t accept it and say sorry.’

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Olympic champion Simone Biles, of Team USA, said what happened ‘broke her heart’ and added on social media: ‘There is no room for racism in any sport or at all!’

In a video sent to the family, she said: ‘I was completely shocked and wanted to let you know that you deserve a medal just like all of the other girls.

‘I know you’ve worked incredibly hard at the sport and I wanted to say I am rooting for you from here. Sending you my very best and know that there are so many of us here to support you.’

Gymnastics Ireland said it had ‘engaged immediately’ with the parents of the competitor after their complaint.

A statement said: ‘The official concerned said that upon realising the mistake they immediately rectified it and ensured that the competitor concerned was presented with her medal before she left the field of play.

They added the official is no longer a member of the sporting body after she chose not to renew her membership.

Gymnastics Ireland said the matter was settled in August, but the mum has denied this and claimed the ‘one-line’ written apology wasn’t genuine.

The sporting body added the wellbeing of its gymnasts ‘is at the heart of everything we do’ and said it is a ‘very inclusive sport’.

It added it was contacted by the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation, based in Switzerland, last summer after it was informed of the complaint.

Gymnastics Ireland said: ‘We remained engaged with the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation through the autumn and winter months during which time our internal process was suspended.

‘In February, we agreed to resume internally and proceed to the next stage of our process.’

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