NI gymnast apologises for ‘mocking’ Islamic prayers

Luke Carson.

Luke Carson.

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A retired gymnast from Northern Ireland has found himself embroiled in controversy after the emergence of a video appearing to show him mocking Islamic prayers with Team GB’s Olympic medallist Louis Smith.

Carson, who competed in the Commonwealth Games in 2014 before his retirement due to injury last year, is shown in the video laughing while pretending to pray and shouting the Islamic phrase “Allahu Akbar”, meaning ‘God is Great’.

British Gymnastics have confirmed they are investigating. In a statement posted to their website, the governing body said: “We would like to make our position known with regards to media reports involving Louis Smith and Luke Carson.

“British Gymnastics does not condone the mocking of any faith or religion and is appalled by such behaviours. Gymnastics is an inclusive sport and we are proud of members who portray the inclusive values of British Gymnastics. Members who break our code of conduct can face suspension or expulsion from our organisation. We will be investigating the behaviours reported.”

Both athletes have since apologised. Luke Carson, from Lisburn, said: “I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely apologise for my recent behaviour. It was an act that showed extreme poor judgement and one I truly regret. My insensitive actions were offensive, immature and careless. I have a responsibility to myself and others to act in a respectful and dignified way which in this case I failed to do. I do truly offer my sincerest apology for any offense caused.”

Louis Smith said: “I am deeply sorry for the recent video you may have seen. I am not defending myself, what I did was wrong. I want to say sorry for the deep offense I have caused and to my family who have also been affected by my thoughtless actions. I recognise the severity of my mistake and hope it can be used as an example of how important it is to respect others at all times. I have learnt a valuable life lesson and I wholeheartedly apologise.”