Furious parents of black girl snubbed in medal ceremony brand Gymnastics Ireland's apology 'useless'

29 September 2023, 15:54

Her parents have called the apology "useless".
Her parents have called the apology "useless". Picture: Twitter
Jasmine Moody

By Jasmine Moody

The parents of a 10-year-old gymnast, who was skipped during a medal ceremony, have said Gymnastics Ireland only apologised because "the world wanted them to".

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The incident occurred at the GymStart event in Dublin in March 2022, where footage showed the girl's white peers receiving a medal while she was left out.

The 10-year-old could be seen looking disappointed and asking the girl next to her what had happened.

A year and a half after the snub, Gymnastics Ireland released an apology, stating that it was "deeply sorry", but the parents believe they only apologised because they "cried for so long".

Read more: Outpouring of support for black girl ‘overlooked’ for gymnastics medal in Ireland as official body issues ‘unreserved’ apology

Read more: 'If it's not racism, then what is it?': Mother reacts to young black gymnast denied medal

The full statement read: "What happened on the day should not have happened, and for that, we are deeply sorry. We are also sorry that what has happened since that date has caused further upset."

Gymnastics Ireland claimed it had offered an "in-person apology" and decided that "mediation was the best way forward".

The sports body continued: "We know now we need to do more. We are committed to ensuring nothing like this will happen again.

"We appointed an independent expert to review our policies and procedures earlier this year, and a series of recommendations have resulted, which we are fully committed to implementing so that this does not ever happen again.

"We would also like to engage with the gymnast's family and Sport Against Racism Ireland (SARI) to listen to any suggestions they have as to how our procedures can be improved in this regard.

"We are happy to see that the gymnast continues to participate in Gymnastics Ireland events, and we look forward to welcoming her back to our future events also.

"Finally, we would like to make it absolutely clear that Gymnastics Ireland condemns any form of racism whatsoever."

Her parents have called the apology "useless" as they had to wait 18 months.
Her parents have called the apology "useless" as they had to wait 18 months. Picture: Twitter

However, the mother of the girl told the BBC that the apology is "so useless", adding that she has not even told her daughter because "it's been well over a year".

"They only sent us an apology because the world wanted them to, because we cried for so long.

"I didn't believe in this day and time that this could happen. It is painful to actually state the obvious - my daughter was the only black child in that competition; she stood out well, there was no excuse for what happened.

"She felt very upset about what happened. It was almost as if though they blamed her for being black. It's something very uncomfortable for a 10-year-old to go through."

The mother reportedly emailed Gymnastics Ireland a day after the incident in hopes of receiving an apology.

However, the family only received a short letter from the judge at the event a year later, addressed as "to whom it concerns".

The BBC found out that the judge who snubbed the girl wrote an apology email shortly after the incident and sent it to Gymnastics Ireland to pass on to the family.

The judge wrote that she was sorry for creating upset and that "she was very nervous" and made "a genuine mistake."

She continued: “When I realised my mistake, I ran back to get your lovely child a participation medal and apologise."

However, this email was never forwarded to the family.

Her father said: "They tried to cover up like it didn't happen. They probably thought that with time they'll forget about it. It was painful. You have to beg for an apology."

The resurfaced video has caused great uproar among viewers, including LBC’s Sangita Myska, who said the video made her "teary".

'I felt teary': Sangita Myska gives her reaction to young black gymnast denied medal

The footage from March 2022 has gone viral and was condemned by many, including Olympic champion Simone Biles, who branded the snub as "heartbreaking".

In a video to the young gymnast, Ms Biles said: "I wanted to let you know that I saw how you were treated at your GymStart event recently.

Simone Biles showed her support to the young gymnast
Simone Biles showed her support to the young gymnast. Picture: Alamy

"I was completely shocked and wanted to let you know that you deserve a medal just like all of the other girls.

"I know you've worked incredibly hard at the sport and I wanted to say I am rooting for you from here. Sending you my very best and know that there are so many of us here to support you."

The sports body admitted they took too long to make an apology, blaming the delay on "human error, threats of legal action, intervention by third parties, and our own understanding that this was a complaint from the parents against the official".

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