Monday 02 August 2021

Dutch gymnastics association suspends coaches pending abuse probe


The Dutch gymnastics association KNGU has suspended its top level coaches and halted training for its international women’ teams pending an investigation into claims about physical and mental abuse.

Several former gymnasts have come forward in recent days to speak about their experiences of being hit, shouted at and belittled, often while still very young.

Direct claims have also been made about two of the current top coaches, Vincent Wevers and Gerben Wiersma.

‘The stories are coming from all sides,’ KNGU chairwoman Monique Kempff told a news conference. ‘And if you want to make a cultural shift, you cannot take half measures.’

Last weekend, former trainer Gerrit Beltman set the ball rolling in an interview with the Noord Hollands Dagblad, in which he admitted physical and mental abuse.

Later, former gymnast Joy Goedkoop told television programme Studio Sport about the abuse she had been subjected too at the hands of Wevers from the age of seven.

Wevers is also the father of Olympic champion Sanne Wevers and won the coach of the year award in 2016.

Sanne, her sister and the rest of the Dutch international team have issued a joint statement saying they do not recognise the picture which has been painted in the media about physical abuse within the sport.

‘As far as we are concerned, physical and mental flagellation are in the past. Our current team operates in a healthy, top-level sports climate,’ the statement said.

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