Ex-England gymnast speaks out about abuse suffered from coach

17 June 2022, 15:57 | Updated: 17 June 2022, 16:07

By Seán Hickey

Following the publishing of the damning Whyte report into abuse in British gymnastics, this former gymnast shares her experience inside the organisation that 'put medals above welfare'.

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The Whyte review unearthed stories from 400 accounts of harrowing abuse at the hands of British gymnastics coaches, where in some cases children as young as seven were publicly humiliated, deprived of food and even sat on by coaches.

"This must be a very upsetting time for you" Shelagh Fogarty asked former England gymnast Nicole Pavier.

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She said that "the biggest thing is seeing the negligence and failure towards gymnasts and children" unearthed in the report.

Ms Pavier described the helplessness felt by young children going into such a toxic culture: "You go into it, and these are the accepted practices, and you're a child, so you don't know any differently."

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The former gymnast hit out at "the gaslighting and manipulation of parents" emerging in the wake of the report, pointing out that "they're not allowed in the gym."

"Did you have anything happen to you?" Shelagh asked, citing the report's extensive reference to physical, emotional and some sexual abuse.

"The first part of the worst physical abuse I suffered when I was 11 years old" Ms Pavier said.

"I left that club and there was a conversation about 'do we make a complaint? Do we not make a complaint?' But if you want to continue doing gymnastics you can't.

"Otherwise you'd be ostracised from the sport and penalised for talking out about a well known and well liked coach within British gymnastics."

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