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

25 September 2023, 16:01 | Updated: 25 September 2023, 16:14

The black gymnast was passed over for a medal. The official involved said it was an honest mistake
The black gymnast was passed over for a medal. The official involved said it was an honest mistake. Picture: Twitter

By Asher McShane

Gymnastics Ireland has issued an ‘unreserved apology’ after a black girl was passed over for a medal at a ceremony.

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The girl was among peers being given medals at a Gymstart event in Dublin last year but the person distributing medals did not give her an accolade as she passed along the line.

The girl is clearly disappointed and confused in the clip, at one point appearing to ask the girl next to her what has happened. Her parents complained and then reached out to gymnast Simone Biles, who said the incident “broke her heart.”

Simone wrote on Twitter: “There is no room for racism in any sport or at all.”

After the footage resurfaced, Gymnastics Ireland issued a belated apology.

Her family had claimed Gymnastics Ireland had suppressed a personal apology letter, and officials declined to attend mediation. The body cast the incident as a dispute between the girl’s family and the official involved, the girl’s family claimed.

There was no apology for 18 months.

GI later put out a statement saying it had “expressed concern” to the family and issued a written apology from the judge, only issuing a full formal apology today.

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"What happened on the day should not have happened and for that we are deeply sorry," the organisation said in a statement.

It said that it appointed an independent expert to review its policies and procedures earlier and a series of recommendations have now been put in place to make sure "this does not ever happen again".

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

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It added that the organisation "condemns any form of racism whatsoever".

The official involved described the incident as an “honest error.”

The girl has kept up with her gymnastics. Gymnastics Ireland said: “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.”