Shambolic performance by Gymnastics Ireland

The vast majority of individuals and organisations across Ireland, north and south, are appalled by any hint of racism, regardless of the circumstances in which it occurs.

It can only be enormously regrettable that officials from Gymnastics Ireland have managed to blatantly mishandle their response to a hugely publicised incident when a young black girl was not given the medal she deserved after participating in a competition in Dublin last year.

Details of the scandal have only emerged in recent days after a video showing what happened to the child, who was aged ten at the time, came into in the public domain.

The girl competed in a GymStar event, and then joined a range of her counterparts who were due to complete the proceedings by receiving the formal recognition they fully deserved after their displays.

However, a judge then presented medals to every white participant present but inexplicably walked past the only black child in the line-up at the auditorium in our capital city.

The girl's family, who have asked not to be identified, emailed the governing body the following day, understandably seeking an explanation, only for a bizarre series of curious delays and confused replies to follow.

A year later, the parents received a brief and inappropriate expression of regret from Gymnastics Ireland, which almost unbelievably was addressed `To whom it concerns', and left unsigned, although a more comprehensive and unreserved apology has since been issued.

It has also emerged that the judge attempted to say that she was extremely sorry via a statement to the organisers shortly after the incident, stressing that she had been very nervous during the presentations and had made a genuine mistake, but the family said the email was never forwarded to them.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was justified in expressing his disappointment over the sequence of events and declaring that there could be no room for any kind of racism, sexism or discrimination in sport.

The international impact of the debacle was illustrated when the famous US gymnast Simone Biles, a four time Olympic champion, sent a personal message of support to the child and said the episode had broken her heart.

It is clear that the approach by Gymnastics Ireland to the case has been shambolic from start to finish, and the proposal from the girl’s family that the entire sporting body should receive an effective form of anti racism training deserves to be accepted without delay.