Otago Daily Times

Shock report ‘welcomed’ by academy


THE Dunedin Gymnastics Academy has welcomed an independen­t report which revealed a toxic culture of fear and retributio­n within Gymnastics New Zealand.

The report was initiated following complaints aired in the media last year about mistreatme­nt.

The threemonth investigat­ion identified incidences of athletes being pressured to train despite injuries who feared reprisals if they complained.

It also exposed a lack of care for the mental and physical wellbeing of athletes. Concerns were also raised about body image issues, eating disorders and of pushy, abusive behaviour which had become normalised.

Dunedin Gymnastics Academy (DGA) general manager Gwen Harrop said, while the report was damaging for the sport, it was also a positive step towards addressing the issues which had now been clearly highlighte­d.

‘‘It is a very challengin­g time for gymnastics at the moment,’’ Harrop said.

‘‘As a club who strives to build an inclusive and positive culture we welcome the . . . report and their commitment to improving the culture of the sport across the country.

‘‘DGA has a philosophy of positive coaching with an emphasis on athletes having fun while learning the foundation of gymnastics.

‘‘The majority of our members are recreation­al athletes attending a weekly class.

‘‘We consider success being when a gymnast walks out our door as a lifelong lover of sport and comes back as a coach, judge or with their own children.’’

DGA has about 700 members and is the biggest club south of Christchur­ch.

Harrop said the emphasis was on a balanced approach rather than trying to squeeze every last drop of talent out of an athlete before they got too old, which in the gymnastics world has been in the late teens.

‘‘We like to focus on effort. We want our members to have a lifelong love of gymnastics and believe this comes from a balanced approach.

‘‘When we talk about balance we mean that they have a balance of fun, skill acquisitio­n, a sense of belonging, friendship­s, achievemen­t, time in their life to complete study demands, time in life for social interactio­ns and other sports or extra curricular activities.

‘‘We welcome opportunit­ies to continue a dialogue with [Gymnastics New Zealand] about how our sport can continue to improve and develop.

‘‘As a club we will continue to digest the contents of the report and its recommenda­tions and we are committed to working positively with Gymnastics New Zealand to see the culture of our sport improve.’’

We welcome opportunit­ies to continue a dialogue

with [Gymnastics New Zealand] about how our sport can continue to improve

and develop.

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