A 23-year-old former gymnast is suing her coaches after training injuries have allegedly left her unable to have a baby naturally.
Yahoo! News reports that Rebecca Owen claims she was forced to train, despite sustaining a fracture injury to her lower back at the age of 11 when she was performing a whip salto movement.
She returned to full training after six months of rest and her coaches added the whip salto movement to the regime, despite it being the cause of her injury. She was required to perform it between 10 and 15 times a day, Ms Owen says – and she has been ‘in constant pain’ since leaving the sport seven years’ ago.
Ms Owen won two silver medals for England at the 2002 Commonwealth Games. However, she told the Daily Mail that her life had been ‘ruined’ by the injury.
‘Although I had been diagnosed with a fracture in my lower back, my coaches insisted I trained. Despite the fact I was in agony and often in tears, they kept pushing me to perform.
‘People often comment on how Eastern European gymnasts are treated – but it isn't very different here. Young children are pushed beyond their limits and are forced to perform under pressure and pain.
‘I always longed for lots of children but even if I manage to carry a baby – and doctors say it will be agonising, as my back is so weak – I won't be able to give birth naturally.’
Ms Owen retired after having to withdraw at the qualifying stage for the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Her former coaches – Great Britain coach Colin Still and his wife Christine, who commentates for the BBC – have declined to comment.
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