Olympic gymnast details dark reason for retirement at 20

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Amy Tinkler, pictured here at the Olympics and on Instagram.
Amy Tinkler announced her retirement at age 20. Image: Getty/Instagram

Olympic gymnast Amy Tinkler has detailed the disturbing real reason for her shock retirement at age 20.

Tinker became Great Britain’s youngest medallist in Olympics history at Rio 2016, but stunned the gymnastics world when she announced her retirement in January.

Amid speculation she retired because of injury, the Olympic bronze medallist has now set the record straight.

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Tinkler says her experiences as a club and elite gymnast forced her into retirement, not the physical injury that was reported at the time.

The 20-year-old is the latest British gymnast to come forward in recent weeks with claims of abuse and bullying.

Tinkler says she submitted a formal complaint to British Gymnastics in late 2019 but never received a response.

Aly Raisman, Simone Biles and Amy Tinkler, pictured here at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Aly Raisman, Simone Biles and Amy Tinkler at the Rio 2016 Olympics. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

“I'm heartbroken by the stories that have been told over the past week,” Tinkler wrote in a statement on social media.

“I'm so proud of my fellow gymnasts who have shared their stories, I know how hard it is, and your bravery has been a shining light and inspiration in dark and troubling times for the sport we love.

“I submitted a formal complaint to British Gymnastics in December 2019. It was an account of my experiences as a club and elite gymnast, and the experiences I shared were the reason for my retirement in January, not a physical injury as was suggested by some at the time.

“My complaint was submitted in accordance with the British Gymnastics complaints policy by a legal team from Irwin Mitchell LLP. After 8 months, I'm no closer to having any feedback or outcome.

“It took a lot of support and counselling to build up the courage to tell my story. I would like to thank Scott [Hann, Tinkler's coach] and the team at South Essex Gymnastics Club for everything they did for me, without their help I would never have had the strength to begin this journey. I hope someone now listens to us.”

Tinkler was the youngest member of Team GB at the 2016 Olympics, winning bronze in the floor exercise behind American superstars Simone Biles and Aly Raisman.

She also won a world championships medal, three European medals and 10 British titles.

Investigation launched into British gymnastics

The governing body of British Gymnastics has launched an independent review into allegations of abuse in the sport.

Catherine Lyons, a 19-year-old former gymnast, told ITV News she was assaulted and bullied by a coach as a young girl.

Lisa Mason, a gold medallist at the 1998 Commonwealth Games who competed at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, also reported abuse from a coach as a youngster.

British Gymnastics chief executive Jane Allen has admitted to feeling “appalled and ashamed” by the escalating allegations.

“The behaviours we have heard about in recent days are completely contrary to our standards of safe coaching and have no place in our sport,” Jane Allen said.

“It is clear that gymnasts did not feel they could raise their concerns to British Gymnastics and it is vital that an independent review helps us better understand why so we can remove any barriers as quickly as possible.”

Lawyer Jane Mulcahy will conduct the review of the allegations that were labeled “shocking and upsetting” by the UK Sport government agency.

“There is absolutely no place for any sort of bullying or abuse in sport and anyone responsible for such behaviour must be held accountable, with support offered to those affected,” UK Sport said.

UK Sport, which oversees funding for British Olympic and Paralympic athletes, said it would determine an “appropriate response” after establishing the facts with British Gymnastics.

“It is essential that all athletes feel comfortable to come forward and share concerns they may have in a safe and confidential environment,” UK Sport said.

with agencies