Japanese gymnast Sae Miyakawa has defended her coach after he was indefinitely banned by the Japan Gymnastics Association (JGA) for his violent behaviour towards her.
The 18-year-old, who competed at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, admitted that her coach, Yuto Hayami, sometimes hit her head during training but claimed that the punishment was too strict.
But Miyakawa maintains her desire to train under Hayami while preparing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics despite his conduct.
The JGA revoked Hayami's coaching registration and banned him from the National Training Centre after Hayami’s violent conduct was reported last month.
"I did not ask for such a punishment and I cannot agree with its severity," Miyakawa said.
She also suggested that she may withdraw from consideration for a spot on the national team as Japan prepare for the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Doha in October and November.
Hayami, who has coached her since she was a child, is a key part of Miyakawa’s training and she says she finds it difficult to prepare without him.
After Hayami was reported, the JGA interviewed the disgraced coach.
They found that the coach repeatedly acted violently toward Miyakawa, by slapping her face or dragging her body, between September 2013 and May 2018.
However, Miyakawa said she accepted that treatment as a means of "remotivating" her.
"I am determined to work with coach Hayami whatever happens," she said.
Allegations against JGA officials for "power harassment" were also made by Miyakawa.
JGA officials said they were unaware of the claims made against fellow officials but claimed they will look into it if asked to by Miyakawa.
The JGA maintained that they will not tolerate any form of violence by coaching officials.
Hayami has filed a petition for an injunction with the Tokyo District Court to maintain his qualification as a gymnastics coach.
Miyakawa has criticised the handling of this case and believes there may have been ulterior motives.
"I think they were trying to separate me from the coach, using the issue of his violence as a pretext, because they wanted to put me in the Asahi Mutual Life Insurance team," Miyakawa said.
The Asahi Mutual Life Insurance team is coached by Chieko Tsukahara, who Miyakawa has claimed showed an "authoritative" attitude toward her after Hayami's violence behaviour came to light.
Tsukahara is responsible for female athlete improvement.
Japanese sport has been plagued by allegations of violence and harassment in recent months, including sumo, wrestling, and American football, while gymnastics in the United States has been thrown into crisis amid the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.