‘We’re like pieces of meat’
Olympic medallist Nile Wilson has claimed British gymnasts continue to be “treated like pieces of meat” and that a “culture of abuse” exists within the sport. British Gymnastics has become engulfed by scandal following escalating allegations of bullying and abuse, and Wilson is one of the highestprofile athletes to speak out.
Olympic bronze medallist Nile Wilson has said he felt “worthless” after a complaint he lodged against his former club was dismissed by British Gymnastics, adding that athletes are “still treated like pieces of meat”.
Wilson yesterday became the highest-profile male gymnast to speak out about claims of abusive coaching which have rocked British Gymnastics in recent weeks.
“I’ve been blessed to have had some incredible coaches, but it was certainly apparent that culture existed and still exists today, which I definitely want to change,” Wilson, 24, told the BBC. “I would certainly say that I was abused. I would absolutely describe it as a culture of abuse. And I’ve lived and breathed it for 20 years.
culture of ‘win at all costs’ … I think it was [a] coaching methodology where we felt what it feels like to live in fear – you perform or there’s a consequence. And I think that affects you emotionally more than anything.
“The medals provide the funding [for] the sport to be where it is today. We’re the ones that win those medals – and yet the gymnasts are still treated like pieces of meat and paid the least.”
Wilson joins scores of other gymnasts who have voiced their experiences of abuse in the past month, prompting UK Sport and the British Athletes Commission to launch an independent review of the sport.
Like Wilson, fellow Rio 2016 medallist Amy Tinkler last month expressed frustration with British Gymnastics’ approach to dealing with formal complaints.
He also said he was “scared” his selection for the Tokyo Olympic team may now be jeopardised as a result of voicing his concerns.
In a statement, British Gymnastics said that mistreatment of gymnasts “is inexcusable”, adding that it had not yet received any formal complaint from Wilson in regards to coaching, and encouraged all gymnasts to report their experiences formally.
Fear: Nile Wilson says he is scared that raising concerns over abuse may jeopardise his selection for the Tokyo Olympics