By Annie Dabb • 18 June 2022 • 17:31
Gymnast: Annesha Gosh - Flickr
The Whyte report, which was published last week, is a shocking expose of the abuse many young gymnasts have experienced in the last 12 years.
With nearly 400 participants in the study, 95% of which were under and 75% of which were under the age of 12, some of the cases had to be passed on to local authorities due to child safeguarding reasons or concerns of ongoing criminal conduct, as reported by theguardian.com.
Despite ongoing denial about the normalisation of the culture of abuse built into Gymnastics as a women’s sport, Whyte’s report highlights the coach centrism of gymnastics.
There is a direct correlation between the move of many male coaches to train young prepubescent girls and the counter-development and abuse they received. This emphasised the damaging power dynamics which has enabled many young women and girls who participate in the sport to be disrespected.
Many gymnastics have claimed that years of gaslighting and verbal humiliation has had a more damaging effect than the sexual abuse they have experienced.
The review recommends a number of changes and reforms to British Gymnastics to prevent further experiences of neglect and abuse and to improve the experience of gymnasts currently training, and to allow those who have been affected to begin to heal.
Sarah Powell asserts the necessity of a change to the culture of gymnastics. Claire Jefford and Sarah Moore have also shared their own experiences of feeling vindicated by the report but insist that a cultural change is not enough. They urge legislative changes to make the reporting of sexual and physical abuse in the support mandatory as an improvement to safeguarding measures in gymnastics.
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From Newcastle originally, Annie is based in Manchester and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features.
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