Gym coach in quit shock

Robert Callahan.
Robert Callahan.

One of Scotland’s most respected gymnastics coaches has explained his decision to quit the sport’s national agency, which has plunged the already embattled organisation into crisis.

Robert Callahan resigned from the board of the Scottish Gymnastics Association last week along with fellow director Marion Sands.

Mr Callahan, who lives in Brightons and helped establish the Falkirk School of Gymnastics in Cow Wynd, told Heraldsport that he had stepped aside with a “heavy heart”.

He said: “Over the last year the board of Scottish Gymnastics has been focused for most of that time on the unfortunate dismissal of two employees and the subsequent industrial tribunal to be held later this year. The time spent by the board in dealing with these issues has meant that many important issues facing the sport, including the 2014 Commonwealth Games, have not had the required attention of the board.

“Scottish Gymnastics has three major events this year; the Northern European Championships, the Thistle Bowl and the World Cup – all of which are being held in the new Commonwealth Arena in Glasgow. In order that these events are run successfully it requires an organising team dedicated to these events and without the distractions currently taking up so much of my time.”

Scottish Gymnastics made national headlines earlier this month after sportscotland ended its central funding following a report that criticised the organisation’s disciplinary procedures and child protection policy.

Around 150 representatives of its member clubs met with Scottish Gymnastics last week, and reportedly called for the entire board to step down.

Lynn Milne, president of Scottish Gymnastics, said: “We are sorry to see Robert go, his contribution to gymnastics has always and will continue to be greatly valued. Whilst we wish him well in the future, it is important to point out that our board is in good shape for the future, with a good balance of sports and business skills.

“We have been working very hard behind the scenes with several parties to reinstate sportscotland’s funding for eight staff that support our top gymnasts. We are pleased that sportscotland has confirmed that the eight staff salaries are now being supported by them.

“All organisations have distractions which take up senior management time and attention.”