Gymnast unable to have natural birth sues coaches

Eurosport - Sat, 29 May 13:39:00 2010

Former gymnast Rebecca Owen is suing her ex-coaches for forcing her to train with an injury that has left her unable to have a baby naturally.

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The 23-year-old, who won two Commonwealth Games silver medals for England in 2002, claims she was forced to train despite a back fracture, and says she has been in constant pain since quitting the sport seven years ago.

Owen picked up the injury when she was just 11 while doing a "whip salto" but returned to full training after six months rest.

Her coaches then added the whip salto back to her routine on her return despite it being related to her injury, and she was forced to carry out the move 10 to 15 times a day.

Owen's former coaches are Great Britain coach Colin Still and his wife Christine, who commentates for the BBC. 

"This has ruined my life," Owen told the Daily Mail.

"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. 

"And I don't know how I would look after a baby - bending and stretching are virtually impossible.

"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.

"Even going out with friends is miserable as I can't sit or stand in the same position for very long. I am constantly in agony and always taking strong painkillers."

Owen retired after being forced to pull out of the qualifiers for the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

The Stills have refused to comment on the story.


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