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Aussie Athletes Come Forward As Netflix Doco Sparks Global Gymnastics Movement

Aussie Athletes Come Forward As Netflix Doco Sparks Global Gymnastics Movement

The latest Netflix documentary is more than just a documentary.

'Athlete A', which delves deeper into the awful acts of disgraced former USA team doctor Larry Nasser, has sparked a movement encouraging current and former gymnasts to open up on their experiences of sexual abuse.

And with allegations continuing to rock the gymnastics world, Australian athletes are now starting to come forward too.

The #GymnastAlliance movement - combined with the powerful message within 'Athlete A' - has inspired gymnasts from around the globe to share their stories of physical, emotional and verbal abuse.

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Now, a number of Aussies are beginning to speak up about similar experiences.

2006 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Chloe Gilliland says she suffered from eating disorders after her coaches constantly body-shamed for being "too heavy" during competitions.

In a social media post, Gilliland said: "They never called me 'fat' but remarked that I was 'too heavy', which was why I repeatedly couldn't make it through my bar routine or the reason behind my stress injuries.

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"If they weren't making comments about being 'heavy for the next day', the next thing they would revert to saying, was that I was just stupid.

"So at 17 despite receiving sports psychology and dietitian advice, I felt it was easier to end my own life, than to give in to what they wanted me to be."

Fellow Aussie gymnast Mary-Anne Monckton joined Gilliland in the chorus of past and present voices condemning the toxic nature of the sport.

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The five time-national champion urged the abuse of young athletes to stop, claiming she's been left with 'deep scars that will take years to heal' after suffering in silence for years.

"The abuse (physical, mental and emotional) needs to stop, or at least be stamped out of our sport," Monckton said in a social media post.

"I, like so many others, have experienced body shaming, have had food withheld, been yelled at until I cried (even as an adult athlete, which is downright embarrassing), and been manipulated and 'forced' to do things that I was not physically ready for or capable of doing, which ultimately led to career ending injuries.

"For anyone reading this and wondering why these things continue to happen and why gymnasts don't speak up about issues when they are having them, it is because it will ultimately 'hurt' them more than anyone else involved.

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"Imagine having everything you have ever worked for, taken away from you. This is why you stay silent; out of fear.

"This culture has been normalised within our sport and has impacted many young gymnasts' lives. These negative experiences have left me with deep scars and will take years to heal."

And the outpour of horrific experiences shared by Australian gymnasts didn't stop there.

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Yasmin Collier says she was once referred to as a "fat, lazy pig".

2014 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Olivia Vivian claims her gym was "toxic" with "lots of yelling and many forms of criticism" which left her "a broken athlete and even worse, a broken person".

Livia Giles confirmed "gymnastics is riddled with abuse", while Britt Geeley recalls "being called fat by a coach in front of a mirror with fellow gymnasts watching".

Featured Image Credit: Chloe Gilliland. Credit: Facebook

Topics: Documentary, Netflix, latest news, Australia, Updates

Max Sherry

Max Sherry is a journalist for SPORTbible Australia. After migrating Down Under from London as a teenager, he instantly fell in love with Aussie sport and its culture. From NRL to AFL, cricket to rugby — you name it, Max watches it (with a beer in hand, of course). During his time at Fox Sports, he worked in the football department covering the Premier League, A-League, Socceroos and Matildas. Born a stone's throw away from West Ham's training ground, Max is obviously a die-hard Liverpool fan.

 

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