BODY SHAMING. Physical and verbal abuse. Draconian dietary measures and eating disorders. Louise Christie read the horrific testimony that tumbled from page after page in last year’s investigation into the state and culture of British gymnastics and realised she was one of the fortunate ones.

Christie was introduced to the sport – rhythmic gymnastics in her case – at a young age in her native Aberdeen and was then carefully nurtured by attentive coaches throughout her development. That combination of personal dedication and appropriate support culminated in the 22-year-old last year claiming a silver medal for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games.

On the circuit over the years, however, Christie would hear whispers of the less savoury training methods deployed elsewhere, gyms where coaches’ pursuit of perfection would come at a very human cost: gymnasts, male and female, left mentally and physically broken by the demands placed on them.

The 306-page independent report produced by Anne Whyte QC included tales of gymnasts being reduced to tears by coaches sitting on top of them, one athlete made to stand on a beam for two hours, frozen in fear, others being told what they could or could not eat. It was wholly damning and it happened on British Gymnastics’ watch.

“I feel very lucky to have had positive experiences in the sport,” admits Christie. “But gymnastics has had a bit of a negative light on it recently. It surprised me when I heard that last year and a lot of the stories were difficult to read. I feel fortunate that I’ve had positive experiences when a lot of other people haven’t. I’ve been very lucky to have had some amazing coaches throughout my career who helped me achieve my dream of getting to the Commonwealth Games. And I’m fortunate to have had that relationship with them. But [poor treatment of gymnasts] is definitely something I’ve been aware of throughout my career, and it’s very sad.”

The presentation yesterday, then, of a new UK-wide vision for gymnastics was the latest step in trying to restore and rebuild the sport’s reputation. Leap Without Limits sees Scottish Gymnastics join up with British Gymnastics, English Gymnastics, Gymnastics Northern Ireland and Welsh Gymnastics to take a combined approach to ensure gymnastics is “enjoyable, safe and open to everyone”.

Although the Whyte Report is not explicitly mentioned as the starting point for this development, the new document was put together after gymnastics’ key stakeholders had been consulted on “what was important to them, what needs to change, what makes gymnastics special, and the role it could and should play in our society”. Key among the aims are to make gymnastics more inclusive, accessible and, perhaps most importantly, safe for all.

“I think this vision is great because it’s about inclusion, breaking down the barriers and getting more people involved,” adds Christie. “It’s about shedding a more positive light on the sport and everyone having better experiences. This combined vision with all the home nations is really going to help to create a more positive outlook with more people getting involved in the sport and gymnastics reaping the benefits of that. I’m hoping it’s going to create a much happier and safer sport in this country.

“What keeps us in this sport and competing at this level is our love for it. I’ve been going in and helping with the recreational classes and I love passing on my knowledge and experience to the younger generation. Gymnastics is still thriving among kids and it’s great to see them come into classes, learn new skills and meet new people. I’ve made so many friendships throughout my journey in gymnastics and I feel very fortunate to have been able to do that.”

Part of the aim to make gymnastics more inclusive is to reach out to certain communities that have traditionally not had a relationship with the sport.

“One of the main things is to break down the barriers to participation in gymnastics,” adds Christie, a final year sports science student at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen. “We want to make it inclusive for all. There are different reasons [why it’s not at the moment]. One of them is maybe access. They’re looking to get more people from deprived areas into the sport and show how they can get benefits from participation.”

Scottish Gymnastics has identified priority areas and strategic aims for Scotland beyond the Leap Without Limits vision, focusing on “people, experience, wellbeing, pathway and leadership”. This has been backed by sportscotland which has awarded the governing body an increase in lottery grant funding of almost 30 per cent over the next four years to deliver agreed outcomes.

Their chief executive, Forbes Dunlop, said: “Scottish Gymnastics’ new vision will ensure that all participants enjoy a positive and encouraging experience of the sport.”