Young gymnast receives apology year after being skipped over during medal ceremony

Video of the March 2022 incident shows a female judge skipping over the only Black gymnast in the lineup. The governing body for Gymnastics Ireland issued an apology Monday.

A young Black gymnast has received an official apology following an alleged racist incident in which a judge skipped over her during a medal-awarding ceremony more than a year ago.

According to HuffPost, the governing body for Gymnastics Ireland in Dublin issued an apology Monday, saying the organization “condemns any form of racism whatsoever.”

“What happened on the day should not have happened,” the statement read, “and for that we are deeply sorry.”

Gymnastics Ireland controversy
A young Black gymnast has received an apology after a judge skipped over her during the above medal-awarding ceremony more than a year ago. The woman denied the incident was racially motivated. (Photo: Screenshot/ Ireland)

The gymnastics league said it apologized to the family in person but “felt mediation was the best way forward.”

“We know now we need to do more,” Gymnastics Ireland added, noting that an independent expert shared unspecified recommendations the organization is “fully committed to implementing so that this does not ever happen again.”

Video of the March 2022 incident recently went viral on social media, a clip showing a female judge handing young gymnasts their medals as part of Gymnastics Ireland’s GymStart program, which reportedly aims to inspire more people to participate in the sport by “creating a safe, progressive and enjoyable environment for all.”

However, in the footage, the judge can be seen awarding medals to the other youngsters while seemingly ignoring the only little Black girl in the line of gymnasts. The girl initially appears excited as she waits for her award but becomes disappointed as she gets passed over.

The judge has denied her behavior was racially motivated.

U.S. Olympic champion Simone Biles was among those to express her outrage over the clip on social media. The Black gymnast shared on X that “it broke her heart to see” after the girl’s parents contacted her soon after last year’s incident. 

In her post, Biles added that she sent the girl a personal video after the incident and maintained there’s “no room for racism in any sport or at all.”

“I was completely shocked and wanted to let you know that you deserve a medal just like all of the other girls,” Biles told the girl in the video she sent her, People reported. “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.”

In their statement, Gymnastics Ireland said the young gymnast eventually received her medal and still participates in its events, HuffPost reported.

The gymnast’s mother, whose identity was concealed to save the girl and her family from racial abuse, said Gymnastics Ireland did not apologize until the video went viral. The family also said representatives from the organization failed to attend the mediation, presenting the racist incident as a private disagreement rather than an internal issue.

“It’s unbelievable that you treat a little girl this way,” she said, HuffPost reported. “It’s a system problem because when you don’t speak out, the message is that you are happy for it to go away.”

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