‘Petri dish for abuse’: gymnastics faces a reckoning in Australia

‘Petri dish for abuse’: gymnastics faces a reckoning in Australia

The Guardian

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A scathing report into child abuse allegations within the sport has revived calls to raise the age for competition and cracked open a win-at-all-costs culture where young girls are subject to extreme physical expectations

The gymnasts sit cross-legged on the mat. Some in activewear crop tops, others in leotards with shimmery fabric and diamantes. Water bottles adorned with butterflies and rainbows are tossed at the mat’s edge by the wall.

For over two hours at a small gymnastics centre in Sydney, they do lunges across a spring floor, backbends, kickovers. They spin themselves over the lower of the two parallel bars, pull themselves up and then spin backwards over it. They spot each other in handstands against the wall. And at the end of the second hour, they finish with muscle conditioning. Sit-ups. Push-ups. Planks. The muscles in their calves and thighs are defined. Those in crop tops have visible abdominal muscles. They are six, seven and eight-year-old girls.

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