Olympic winner condemns black Irish girl's medal snub

Simone Biles has won 25 World Champions medal in a remarkable career in gymnastics
Simone Biles has won 25 World Championship medals in a remarkable career in gymnastics

Four-time Olympic champion Simone Biles says “there is no room for racism in any sport” after a video went viral on social media of a black girl not being given a medal at an Irish gymnastics event ceremony.

The incident occurred at a Gymstart event in Dublin in March 2022 when a line of children where awarded medals but the black girl did not receive one.

However a video of the incident has emerged in recent days and been watched millions of times on social media, drawing criticism.

Biles saw a video of the incident and postedexternal-link it “broke my heart”.

On Friday, in response to the video, Gymnastics Ireland issued a statement saying they received a complaint alleging racist behaviour in March 2022 from the parents of the girl.

It said there was independent mediation leading to a “resolution agreed by both parties in August 2023”.

As part of Gymnastics Ireland’s investigation into the incident, the official involved “expressed deep regret for what they described as an honest error”.

Gymnastics Ireland said a written apology from the official was issued. It also said the girl did get her medal afterward the ceremony.

However, the Irish Independent on Sunday, quoting the girl’s mother anonymously, said she believes Gymnastics Ireland has failed to publicly apologise and she has taken the matter to the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation in Switzerland.

The Irish Independent also reported that the mother is concerned the family will be a target for racist abuse and wants the video removed by social media companies.

The newspaper reported that the family believed their daughter was ignored at the ceremony because she was black.

“We are often the only black family at gymnastics events and this has been very hurtful for us,” the mother told the newspaper. “Now eight million people have seen the video. From Pakistan to Ethiopia they can see this was wrong but Gymnastics Ireland still can’t accept it and say sorry.”

The Irish Independent also said Biles originally sent a video message to the girl, offering her support last year.


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