Gymnastics Ireland apologises over medal snub for black girl after video goes viral

Gymnastics Ireland has apologised after a video showed a young black girl being skipped over during a medal ceremony at the National Indoor Arena as her white peers were each given an award.

A video of the girl, who was the only black competitor in the line of young gymnasts, being overlooked at the presentation in Dublin in March 2022 has been viewed by millions of people online.

Four-time Olympic gymnastics champion Simone Biles said the video “broke” her heart. She said she sent the girl a video message to offer encouragement, and added: “There is no room for racism in any sport or at all.”

Her United States teammate Jordan Chiles, an Olympic silver medallist, described the incident as “beyond hurtful on so many levels”.

A statement on behalf of the board and staff of Gymnastics Ireland said: “We would like to unreservedly apologise to the gymnast and her family for the upset that has been caused by the incident at the GymStart event in March 2022.

“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.

“Please know that at all times we have been acting in good faith and with the best of intentions in trying to resolve this very difficult and sensitive matter. We offered an in-person apology after the incident as we believed this was the best approach. Subsequently we felt mediation was the best way forward.

“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.”

The statement continued: “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.”

Gymnastics Ireland has more 36,000 members and is predominantly made up of young children and teenagers. It describes itself as having “a very diverse community of members covering all races, ages, genders, sexualities and socio-economic groups”.