Video of Snubbed Black Gymnast Spurs Outcry, Apology

Ireland's sports ministry says girl at competition was 'badly let down' by being passed over
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 26, 2023 7:44 AM CDT
Updated Sep 30, 2023 12:10 PM CDT

A video showing a young Black gymnast being passed over for a medal while her white counterparts all receive one is now making the rounds, prompting an apology from Gymnastics Ireland and support from one of the biggest names in the sport. The BBC reports that the clip now circulating is from a March 2022 meet in Dublin, in which a woman holding a bunch of medals can be seen making her way down the line of girls, draping a medal around each one's neck. When she reaches the Black gymnast, who's eagerly awaiting her medal, the woman seems to struggle for a few seconds with the medals she's holding, then finally breaks one free—and proceeds to drape it not over the neck of the Black gymnast in front of her, but of one of the white gymnasts next to her.

The woman then keeps moving down the line, as the neglected gymnast stares after her, confused. At one point, the gymnast leans into one of the girls next to her, and they appear to be discussing what just happened. It's not clear why the video is circulating now, but it's since gone viral, with one version on the X platform amassing more than 50 million views. On Monday, Gymnastics Ireland responded to public outcry accusing the medal bestower of racism, saying it was "deeply sorry" for what had happened. The group also said the girl received her medal after the ceremony, and that the official who'd handed out the medals held "deep regret" for her "honest error."

Meanwhile, although Sport Ireland concedes the gymnast was "badly let down," witnesses say they heard CEO Una May insist that the official, who has since let her membership with Gymnastics Ireland lapse, simply got the medals "tangled up," per the Guardian. However, Gymnastics Ireland noted Friday it did receive a complaint from the girls' parents shortly after the incident, accusing the official of racist behavior, though the group says a resolution was reached through mediation last summer. The girl's mother is now pushing back on that narrative, telling the Irish Independent they never received a genuine apology.

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The mom also says she has brought the case to Switzerland's Gymnastics Ethics Foundation. The shunned gymnast has at least one major name in gymnastics standing behind her: Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles. "When this video was circulating, her parents reached out," Biles posted. "It broke my heart to see, so I sent her a little video." Biles then added: "There is no room for racism in any sport or at all!!!!" Gymnastics Ireland says it has appointed an outside expert to review its policies "so that this does not ever happen again," per the BBC. (More racism stories.)

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