New fallout in Australian gymnastics abuse scandal

Riley Morgan
·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
Chloe Sims poses with her gold medal and smiles.
Chloe Sims was one of the Australian gymnasts to speak out over the last couple of weeks. (Getty Images)

An investigation has been launched following Australian gymnasts going public with allegations of abuse during their careers.

American and British gymnastics has been plunged into scandal over recent months, with gymnasts speaking out via the #GymnastAlliance movement.

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Adding to the worldwide movement, Australian gymnasts have come forward, taking to social media to share horrifying stories of body-shaming and physical and verbal abuse.

This has prompted Gymnastics Australia (GA) to ask the Australian Human Rights Commission to investigate the shocking allegations.

GA CEO Kitty Chiller said the allegations being shared over the last couple of weeks were “unacceptable” and that the organisation needed to do more to help out gymnasts.

“Many of those experiences are quite simply not acceptable. They reinforce the need for more to be done to change the culture of gymnastics, so that our sport can be trusted, respected and celebrated,” Gymnastics Australia CEO Kitty Chiller said in a statement.

“In recent years we have made a lot of progress to improve policies, education and support mechanisms for our athletes across child safety, body positive guidelines and athlete-first and athlete-coach partnership thinking. We are committed to doing more.

Chiller said GA had requested an investigation into the allegations and to look at the culture within the sport.

“Gymnastics Australia has requested, and the Australian Human Rights Commission has agreed to undertake independent review of our sport’s culture and practices,” she added.

Australian gymnasts come forward

The Netflix documentary ‘Athlete A’, which features disgraced former USA team doctor Larry Nasser, has inspired many current and former gymnasts to speak up.

Chloe Gilliland, nee Sims, said she suffered from bulimia as a result of abuse by coaches and said she considered tasking her own life.

“They never called me ‘fat’ but remarked that I was ‘too heavy’, which was why I repeatedly couldn’t make it through my bar routine or the reason behind my stress injuries,” the 2006 Commonwealth gold medallist wrote on Facebook.

“If they weren’t making comments about being ‘heavy for the next day’, the next thing they would revert to saying, was that I was just stupid.

Mary-Anne Monckton, Georgia Bonora and Olivia Vivian all performing gymnastics.
Mary-Anne Monckton, Georgia Bonora and Olivia Vivian have all come forward. Image: Getty

“So at 17 despite receiving sports psychology and dietitian advice, I felt it was easier to end my own life, than to give in to what they wanted me to be.”

Gilliland said she was forced to quit the sport in her prime and is “sharing this because behind those smiles on the podium, are dark and horrible things that happen in the gym behind closed doors”.

Mary-Anne Monckton, a five time-national champion who won silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, also shared her experiences.

“The abuse (physical, mental and emotional) needs to stop, or at least be stamped out of our sport,” she wrote on Facebook.

Olivia Vivian said “at times the gym was toxic” and recalled “lots of yelling and many forms of criticism”, saying she returned from the 2008 Olympics “a broken athlete and even worse, a broken person”.

Britt Geeley said she was “called fat by (a) coach in front of a mirror with fellow gymnasts watching”, while Georgia Bonora described a “culture of fear created by people in power”.

With Sam Goodwin - Yahoo Sports Australia

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