British Gymnastics: Former gymnast Hannah Whelan ‘hopeful’ new CEO Sarah Powell can bring change

Hannah Whelan competing at the 2014 Commonwealth Games on the beam
Hannah Whelan won two medals at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow

Former British Olympic gymnast Hannah Whelan says she is “hopeful” British Gymnastics’ new chief executive will bring change to the sport.

Sarah Powell started in the role on Monday and said “nothing is off limits” with the changes she will make at the governing body.

An investigation into allegations of abuse at British Gymnastics is ongoing.

Powell’s predecessor Jane Allen retired in December amid accusations of mistreatment of gymnasts at all levels.

“She just needs to make sure that she makes the changes, the difficult ones, and to make sure the people that are employed are in line with the new approach that we need to see, and aren’t the ones that are still either causing problems or enabling the abuse that happened,” said Whelan, who competed at the Beijing and London Olympics.

“Athlete welfare needs to be at the centre of every decision that she makes. It’s very clear there are a lot of issues that have happened, and that have been almost swept under the carpet.

“I’m hopeful. There are a lot of things coming out soon with the Whyte Review, and the Gymnast Alliance recommendations as well. So hopefully, she takes them on board. And she understands the severity of what’s happened.”

The final report from the the Whyte Review investigation is expected in the coming months.

Powell has already made one appointment, bringing in Andy Tombs as British Gymnastics’ executive director of sport.

“Under my leadership British Gymnastics will listen, learn, and operate with transparency and best practice throughout,” said Powell, formerly the chief executive of Sport Wales.

“There will be a zero-tolerance approach to abuse in our sport and nothing is off limits right now in terms of the changes that I will make.

“As a former international athlete and coach, I will use my personal experiences and those gained in my career to ensure British Gymnastics puts the gymnasts voice at the heart of everything we do alongside all those vitally important people who help them to be their best and to enjoy the sport.

“We all want welcoming, safe and enjoyable experiences for everyone involved in gymnastics – and I will do everything that I can to make this happen.”

BBC News