‘We’re like pieces of meat’

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Molly McEl­wee

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

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