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Woman who claims she was abused by Olympic gymnast Stan Wild aged 8 admits she felt suicidal – while he was allowed to keep teaching despite complaints


A woman has claimed she was sexually abused by former Olympian Stan Wild at the age of eight when she visited his house to play dress-up. 

Jess, who has not given her surname, tells her story in Gymnastics: A Culture Of Abuse? – a new ITV documentary which explores abuse in the sport. 

Wild, 79, from Yorkshire, competed at the Olympics in 1968 and 1972 and denies all the allegations against him. Police and CPS decided there was not enough evidence to prosecute him and he has never been charged with an offence. 

Jess said Wild touched her inappropriately in the 1970s when she visited his house at the age of eight to play dress-up. 

She recalled: ‘I remember it was a bright sunny day. I undressed and I put on a tutu, all in one and went into the back garden and the next thing I remember is Stan coming outside and asking me if I’d wet myself.

Jess (pictured)- who has not revealed her surname - speaks out about the shocking sexual abuse she received at the hands of former Olympic gymnast Stan Wild when she was just eight years old

Jess (pictured)- who has not revealed her surname – speaks out about the shocking sexual abuse she received at the hands of former Olympic gymnast Stan Wild when she was just eight years old

Wild denies the allegations and has never been charged with any offence - he even carried the Olympic torch through York in 2012 (pictured)

Wild denies the allegations and has never been charged with any offence – he even carried the Olympic torch through York in 2012 (pictured)

‘And I just remember feeling really embarrassed and thinking, “What? Of course I haven’t wet myself”.

‘I felt like I was in trouble almost because he had a strange look about him and he came over to me and he crouched down and he patted me on my vagina and his breathing was heavy and now I know as an adult obviously that he was excited by what he was doing.’

She added: ‘Since doing this I’ve sort of questioned myself why I didn’t come forward, why didn’t I say anything. I just, I feel guilt, I didn’t know how to verbalise it when I was a child.’

Jess was inspired to contact police after hearing the story of Nikki O’Donnell, who says Wild abused her between the ages of nine and 14 when she was a young gymnast at his gym – though he has never been charged with this. 

Despite complaints, Wild was allowed to continue teaching for many years and was even chosen to carry the Olympic torch through York ahead of the 2012 Olympics. 

Jess said she felt suicidal and turned to alcohol as a teenager, explaining: ‘I just knew that I didn’t want to be here anymore, and I had thoughts of killing myself. The eating was the only thing in life that I could control. 

‘So because of that, I chose to stop eating pretty much all together and at this point I was 5ft 7in, at six stone, and I was extremely poorly. I started drinking at 14. By 16, I was dependent. I would have a drink before school. 

‘I would have spirits in my water bottle at school. And by the time I’d gone to college at 16 I was an alcoholic.’

In the documentary, another gymnast said she was sexually abused by the coach when she was ‘about 10’. 

Jess and ex-gymnast Nicki O'Donnell (pictured together) speak out about Wild's alleged abuse in Gymnastics: A Culture Of Abuse? on ITV

Jess and ex-gymnast Nicki O’Donnell (pictured together) speak out about Wild’s alleged abuse in Gymnastics: A Culture Of Abuse? on ITV

Gymnast Wild competed at the Olympic games in 1972 (pictured) and went on to teach

Gymnast Wild competed at the Olympic games in 1972 (pictured) and went on to teach

The woman, who has remained anonymous but is known as ‘Kirsty’ in the documentary, said Wild, who ran a gym in York, pushed her over, got on top of her and pretended to kiss her.

The woman speaks out anonymously along with other women who say they were also abused by Wild, who has now been banned by British Gymnastics.

‘Stan Wild ran the club when I was there. He was the big boss. Everyone looked up to Stan and wanted to be around them and have him teaching them.  

She says: ‘I was about 10. He sort of like crawled over to me and pushed me back off the bench backwards onto like a mat behind me, and got on top of me, and pretended to kiss me and I could feel his bristles on the side of my face.’

In late 2020, Wild was finally banned by British gymnastics – nearly five years after Kirsty and her family had complained – and 12 years after Nikki O’Donnell had first raised the alarm. 

The programme also features the case of David Schadek, who was jailed for sexually abusing gymnasts in 2022 – more than 15 years after fellow coach Daren Norman says he had tried to raise the alarm about his behaviour.

Daren explained: ‘I was at a national competition up north, and while we were there we went back to the bar and he bought his beer, he bought a Bacardi and Coke, I didn’t think anything of it until he walked back to the couch and gave the Bacardi and Coke to the gymnast. 

‘She was very young, 13 or 14. So I went over to the hierarchy of British Gymnastics and I said you know that Dave is giving Bacardi and Cokes to this gymnast, that he is also sharing a room with, albeit with the consent of the parent. And their answer was, “That’s up to him, don’t get involved”.

Nikki told how Stan abused her between the ages of nine and 14. Pictured: Ex-Gymnast Nikki O'Donnell displays all her medals)

Nikki told how Stan abused her between the ages of nine and 14. Pictured: Ex-Gymnast Nikki O’Donnell displays all her medals)

Jess was inspired to tell her story for the first time after hearing Nikki (pictured) speak out about her own abuse

Jess was inspired to tell her story for the first time after hearing Nikki (pictured) speak out about her own abuse

With the Olympics coming up in Summer 2024, the brand new documentary chronicles the fight for justice by British former gymnasts who say they were physically, emotionally, or sexually abused as children by their coaches.

The former gymnasts – some of whom are telling their stories for the first time – are suing the sport’s governing body, British Gymnastics.

The programme reveals how a national coach had sex with an underage gymnast, as well as allegations of how a former Olympian touched two of his pupils inappropriately at a gym in York, and how another leading coach plied a gymnast on tour with alcohol.

The film details their accounts of how their experiences devastated their lives – from damaging their relationships to driving them into anorexia and alcohol addiction.

Leading lawyer Anne Whyte carried out a two-year inquiry into gymnastics, and found that there was a culture of physical and emotional abuse in clubs up and down the country, but concluded that sexual abuse was not systemic.

British Gymnastics’ response to the Whyte Review was Reform 25, a 41-point action plan that seeks to put gymnasts and their welfare at the heart of the sport. It focuses on cultural change, welfare, safeguarding and complaints as well as learning, development and performance. It says it is making progress with its reforms.

But Ms Whyte said that the sport needs root and branch reform: ‘I think it’s extremely hard to change a culture. Culture reflects itself across every aspect of an organisation. And that’s not just about ticking boxes and issuing new policies. 

‘It is about implementing a fundamental rethink in the way the organisation is run.’

The new documentary, which airs from Thursday night, lays bare the shocking abuse in the sport

The new documentary, which airs from Thursday night, lays bare the shocking abuse in the sport

A spokesperson for North Yorkshire Police said in 2022: ‘A file of evidence was sent to the Crown Prosecution Service at the beginning of May 2022 relating to four non-recent child abuse complaints made against a now 78-year-old man from York.

‘Four women came forward to the police during the past year following national media coverage of an ongoing investigation into the same man. That investigation involved three unconnected women alleging offences committed by him in the 1970s and 2000s.

‘Following careful consideration of the evidence in these matters, the Crown Prosecution Service’s decision was for ‘No Further Action’.

‘All parties have been updated and specialist support continues to be provided to the complainants.’

Gymnastics: A Culture Of Abuse? airs on ITV1 & ITVX 9pm tonight. 



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