Family of Black gymnast slam apology after medal snub that ‘broke’ Simone Biles’ heart

Family of Black gymnast slam apology after medal snub that ‘broke’ Simone Biles’ heart

The family members of a young Black gymnast have dismissed an Irish sport's body's "apology" after the girl was snubbed at a medal ceremony last year.

In a video from March 2022, sporting officials at a GymSTART competition could be seen handing out medals to gymnasts, leaving behind the only Black girl in the group. The video went viral over the weekend.

The incident prompted condemnation from Olympic champion Simone Biles and gymnast Jordan Chiles. "There is no room for racism in any sport or at all," wrote Ms Biles on social media X.

Gymnastics Ireland said in a statement it had received a complaint about racism from the girl's parents and one of their members that led to an investigation. It said both parties "agreed to enter mediation" which led to a "resolution agreed by both parties in August 2023".

The official involved in the incident "expressed deep regret for what they described as an honest error", Gymnastics Ireland said, adding that the official's request for an opportunity to apologise in person to the girl was declined by the family.

The Irish sport's body added: “A written apology provided by the identified individual has since been issued to the competitor and her family."

The girl's mother on Sunday in a statement to the Irish Independent said she believed her daughter was ignored because of her identity.

Lashing out at Gymnastics Ireland, the woman said the sport's body failed to issue a public apology and was “covering” for the official.

She said Gymnastics Ireland's claim that the issue had been settled following mediation was "incorrect".

A one-line written apology from the official addressed “to whom it concerns” was not a genuine apology, the mother said.

"We are often the only Black family at gymnastics events and this has been very hurtful for us,” the mother said.

"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 incident was reported to the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation in Switzerland, she added.

The video was shared privately with four-time Olympic champion Biles, who said the girl's parents had reached out to her in 2022. "When this video was circulating, her parents reached out. It broke my heart to see, so I sent her a little video," she wrote.