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Tue, 4 May, 2021

National disgrace: Report reveals young Aussie gymnasts abused for decades

National disgrace: Report reveals young Aussie gymnasts abused for decades

A new report has revealed the abuse young Australian gymnasts have received for decades, making it the country’s national disgrace.

Mostly young girls, have admitted to being molested, abused, and bullied by the same people who hired to protect them.

Taxpayer-funded sporting authorities did not intervene for unexplainable reasons.

However, some have claimed that they chose to turn a blind eye to the abusive system as they were obsessed with winning.

One girl revealed to the just completed Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) review into gymnastics that her male gymnastics coach would press his genitals against her leg while helping her stretch.

“When we were being stretched in the gym he would have an erection, which I would feel him pushing repetitively on my hips or back while grunting and sighing,” she said.

“He would often stretch me for much longer than the other girls. This was all done so publicly, at an age when you aren’t sure exactly what’s right or wrong or even normal, by someone your own parents respected and told you to respect.”

Another young person revealed that her massage therapist sexually abused her when she was just eight or nine years old.

“This man abused me in various ways, often with my Mum in the room,” she said.

“I would lie face down on the massage table with tears streaming down my face in silence. I remember it being incredibly painful, but I did not want to complain.”

The report also revealed that some girls, some who were not yet teenagers, would warn each other about coaches who preyed on gymnasts once they reached puberty.

“As a group we tried to have signs and signals to help us avoid it even slightly,” one victim said.

“We whispered things like ‘he’s got wandering hands today, try and avoid him if you can.’”

Another victim revealed she had been routinely body-shamed, including at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).

They ran the country’s national high-performance gymnastics program from 1981-2012.

“The first time I was called fat at the AIS, I was 11 years old and weighed 22 kilograms,” she said.

“There was another girl in my group who was called fat at nine years old when she weighed 18 kilograms. It goes to show that it really didn’t matter what we looked like or how little we weighed, we were called fat regardless.”

Almost 200 past and present gymnasts gave shocking testimonies of their experiences in the sport.

The Commission was told: “We know people that have like attempted suicide, people that harm themselves, people that are bulimic, anorexic, because of this. People have been admitted to hospital, been involved with the police, developed psychosis.”

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