She added, “The endless focus on my weight will leave scars that will never be healed, I suppose.” ”
Reflecting on their early experiences in the sport, the two sisters said, “We certainly didn’t know how bad it was back then. It took years and years to understand and accept it.
“Although the exact experiences obviously vary … for too long, the health and well-being of young girls has been of secondary importance compared to a dated, cruel and – we would say – often ineffective culture within female gymnastics training. ”
Becky Downie, who has won 14 major medals for Team GB and England in a distinguished career, has repeatedly described how she was “trained to the breaking point” before admitting : “It is only in recent years that I have understood the mental impact that has had on me. “
She added, “As recently as 2018, and since I was a very senior athlete at this point, I tried to speak at a national camp about what I considered to be a dangerous approach to my training. staff. I was shot, called “mentally weak,” and said that the pain levels I felt were in my head.
“Barely 12 days later, at the European Championships, my ankle broke once again; a direct consequence of the dangerous formation that I tried to set up less than a fortnight earlier. ”
Meanwhile, her younger sister Ellie said she was constantly ashamed of her weight. “From the age of 14, I was told to follow a constant diet,” she said. “At one point at this age, again after I said I was too heavy, a nutritionist told me to provide food journals of everything that went into my mouth and send daily photos of me in my underwear to make sure I wasn’t lying.
“There are countless examples of this behavior that I can cite, but I remember very well that I was told, as a young teenager in a national camp, to lose 6 kg in two weeks or” he there would be consequences. ”
The Downie sisters said they decided to speak out at the behest of other gymnasts earlier this week, including British Olympians Francesca Fox, who were said to be “fat” all the time and “looked like a hippo” and Lisa Mason, who said she had been forced to train several times until her hands tore and bleed, and called GB Gymnastics’ general manager Jane Allen, to resign. A third prominent gymnast said she was locked in a closet by her coach at the age of 10.
The Downies concluded their statement by saying that the culture of British gymnastics has improved in recent years after speaking in private and that, since 2018, they have not been systematically weighed.
British Gymnastics, which launched an independent investigation into the abuse scandal, was informed of the statement in advance, but said it had no comments at this point.