Gymnastics: Simone Biles supports a black girl victim of racism in Ireland

American gymnastics star Simone Biles came to the rescue of a little black, Irish and racist girl. His cry from the heart brought to light a sad story and prompted the National Federation to apologize and review its policies and procedures.

Simone Biles warms up during the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in San Jose, California, August 27, 2023. AP - Godofredo A. Vásquez

By: RFI Follow


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And with our correspondent in Dublin, Clémence Pénard

It all started with a video filmed during a gymnastics competition held in Dublin in March 2022. We see little gymnasts, in colorful leotards, lined up wisely and who all receive a pretty medal. All but one: a black child is the only one who is not given the precious reward. The girl is in fact completely ignored by the head of the National Gymnastics Federation.

The child's outraged mother posted the scene on social media and sent it to Simone Biles. That's where the buzz starts. On September 23, the four-time Olympic gold medalist told X (ex-Twitter) that she was "heartbroken". Simone Biles also explained that she has since sent a video of support to the young athlete. "There is no place for racism, in any sport and nowhere else," the American told X.

Welcome to Ireland where people get away with racism! This little black girl broke my heart. Don't skip this post without leaving a million heart for her. Make her famous...

— Mohamad Safa (@mhdksafa) September 22, 2023

The repentance of the Irish Gymnastics Federation

Since then, the video has been viewed, reviewed, shared and commented on more than 14,000 times. Pointed out, the Irish Gymnastics Federation apologized. "What happened that day should not have happened and we are deeply sorry. (...) We now know that we need to do more. We are determined to ensure that nothing like this happens again," the organization said in a statement on 25 September.

At the moment, no reaction from top athletes here in Ireland. But the girl's mother continues her fight. It calls for training for the staff of all sports bodies in the country against racism and prejudice. The Irish Gymnastics Federation announced that it had "appointed an independent expert to review (our) policies and procedures". "A series of recommendations have resulted and we are fully committed to implementing them so that this never happens again," she added.

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Read on on the same topics:

  • Ireland
  • Sports
  • United States
  • Racism