Thursday , April 18 2024

Team GB gymnast launches desperate appeal to find 60 medals which she sold for £5 at a car boot sale after suffering sickening abuse from coaches

A former Team GB gymnast has made a desperate appeal for help finding 60 medals that she sold in disgust for five pounds at a car boot sale almost 15 years ago.

Nathalie Moutia, a 43-year-old from Aldershot, represented her country as a rhythmic gymnast for more than a decade from the age of nine, and was crowned British Champion aged just 13. 

But four years ago she became one of hundreds of former UK gymnasts to reveal a string of bullying and physical and emotional abuse allegations at the heart of the sport.

Ms Moutia was diagnosed with PTSD due to the abuse she said she suffered at the hands of Team GB coaches. The former athlete said this included coaches weighing her twice a day, denying her food and making her train even while injured. 

She says it was these memories which made her, in a moment of rashness she now regrets, to sell off all her medals at a Sunday car boot sale in Chichester, West Sussex at some point between 2006 and 2009.

Nathalie Moutia, a 43-year-old from Aldershot, represented her country as a rhythmic gymnast for more than a decade from the age of nine

Nathalie Moutia, a 43-year-old from Aldershot, represented her country as a rhythmic gymnast for more than a decade from the age of nine

The only photograph Ms Moutia still has showing the medals she won over a career lasting more than a decade

The only photograph Ms Moutia still has showing the medals she won over a career lasting more than a decade 

Explaining the decision, which she made during her twenties while she was working in HR, Ms Moutia told MailOnline:  ‘One Sunday my partner just said to me: ”We’re doing a car boot sale this morning. 

‘Why don’t you put them all in a box and we can sell them?”. He encouraged me to get rid of them. It was all with good intentions – out of sight, out of mind – but when I remember that moment, I wish I could turn the clock back.’

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Ms Moutia recalls an elderly man approaching their trestle table at the car boot sale, pointing at the cardboard box filled with her medals and saying: ‘I’ll take all of those.’

‘I remember thinking, ”I don’t care what I get for them, I just want them gone,” she said. 

‘So, I said, ”Is a fiver okay?” He said ”yes,” picked up the box and walked away. It was a sense of relief at the time, but I can’t believe that I let that happen.

‘Now all I have is this photograph with the medals, taken when I was 13 and at the peak of my gymnastics career. 

‘This is the only picture I have, and it only shows half of the medals sold because I went on to win lots more before I eventually retired from the sport in 1998.’

Ms Moutia was crowned British Champion aged just 13. She gave away her medals in disgust at the way she and other athletes had been treated, but now regrets the decision

Ms Moutia was crowned British Champion aged just 13. She gave away her medals in disgust at the way she and other athletes had been treated, but now regrets the decision 

Ms Moutia, who now works in IT, said that after her PTSD diagnosis and five years of therapy she now wants the medals back

Ms Moutia, who now works in IT, said that after her PTSD diagnosis and five years of therapy she now wants the medals back 

Ms Moutia, who now works in IT, said that after her PTSD diagnosis and five years of therapy she now bitterly regrets her decision to sell the medals. 

She has posted several pleas on Facebook community sites in the West Sussex area in the hope that someone, somewhere, will know where they are.

‘Maybe someone has an uncle and grandad and has seen my medals in their house?’ Ms Moutia said. 

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‘They’re quite distinguishable and unique. You wouldn’t get them mixed up with another kind of sports medal because they all have a gymnast figure on them. Some of them are quite beautiful bronze ones with so much detail. 

‘And some of them were in red boxes that had a velvet and silk interior. I often wonder if maybe the man who bought them sold them or kept them. But what would he do with them?’

Ms Moutia is now a mother with three children, and believes being reunited with all her medals would help her to look back with positivity and celebrate her huge achievements.

‘A massive part of my recovery was bringing British Gymnastics to account,’ she said. 

‘Once I had that validation and acknowledgment that the way I was trained wasn’t the norm – it was malpractice and bad treatment – I had such an enormous feeling of relief and letting go. 

‘I’m grateful that my story has been used to help and stop it from ever happening again. It’s given purpose to my journey. But I just wish I had my medals back now.’

When allegations against GB gymnastic coaches first started to surface in 2020, more than 3,800 gymnasts initially came forward with complaints of abuse. 

She has posted several pleas on Facebook community sites in the West Sussex area in the hope that someone, somewhere, will know where they are

She has posted several pleas on Facebook community sites in the West Sussex area in the hope that someone, somewhere, will know where they are

Ms Moutia is now a mother with three children, and believes being reunited with all her medals would help her to look back with positivity and celebrate her huge achievements

Ms Moutia is now a mother with three children, and believes being reunited with all her medals would help her to look back with positivity and celebrate her huge achievements

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This let to 400 athletes submitting their experiences to the Whyte Review, published two years later, which laid bare a culture of fear, tyranny and abuse at the centre of British Gymnastics.

‘We were starved in our training camps and weighed two or three times a day.

‘You would be given not even half a slice of brown bread and black tea for breakfast, and you would not be allowed to eat for the rest of the day when you will be training for seven hours.

‘Being pushed to train on injuries, being physically pushed down in splits. For me, the main thing was the psychological and emotional trauma. You would relive it every day. 

‘For a long, long time, if I met someone, I wouldn’t even tell them I was a gymnast. Whereas now I’m actually very proud of my achievements.’

*Do you know where the medals are? Email rory.tingle@mailonline.co.uk* 

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