Jessica Shuran Yu: Figure skater says others in sport ‘want to speak out’ about abuse

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Jessica Shuran Yu competing in the Ladies Free Skating event at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, 2017

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A World Championship figure skater says that since going public about her abuse, other skaters want to speak out but fear they cannot do so until they stop competing.

Jessica Shuran Yu, 20, decided to tell her story following claims of widespread abuse in British gymnastics and watching the “cruel treatment” in Netflix documentary Athlete A, which explores the case of Dr Larry Nassar – the USA Gymnastics team doctor who abused hundreds of young women.

Yu says that from the age of 11, she was hit repeatedly with a plastic skate guard and kicked with the blade of the skate until she bled, for being “too lazy” or if she “wasn’t performing well enough”.

Yu added that after one bad training session, she was dragged from a car and beaten.

Being called “fat,” “useless” and “worthless” was something that Yu said she had to get used to on a daily basis.

Yu, who is now retired from competitive skating, competed internationally for Singapore where her father has citizenship, but trained at an ice rink in Beijing, China. She explains that since speaking about her experience in the Chinese system, other skaters around the world have been in touch with similar allegations of abuse.

“Since I posted my story, I’ve had messages from skaters even outside of Asia that told me they have seen stuff like that happen,” Yu told BBC Sport.

“People have said they really want to speak out about this, but they can’t until they stop competing. This shows that there are consequences and there is still a stigma.

“A big part of abuse is silence and the only way we have a chance against all of this is to be brutal and loud in an unapologetic effort to make the change.”

Yu, who competed at the 2017 World Championships before coaching junior skaters, says she saw others getting abused within the Chinese system.

The Chinese Olympic Committee has declined a BBC Sport request for a response to Yu’s allegations.

“There was one girl who was eight years old, she was hit repeatedly, kicked a lot and she was so small,” says Yu. “You could see that she was so miserable and so scared. It was brutal to watch.”

Yu says she saw one girl get chased around the rink, crying hysterically, while another girl was regularly hit with guards too. She was barely a teenager.

In the past week, French figure skating has also been put under the spotlight following a government report, which alleged that 21 coaches were suspected of offences