Quebec’s juvenile champion punished for speaking out about bullying

Hayleigh Abbott

12-year-old Hayleigh Abbott of Canada and her parents think the young talent was kicked out of an elite figure skating program after speaking out about being bullied by another skater, Global News reported last week.

People used to think that figure skating is a kind of community where high standards of culture and behavior are one of the primary values. In many cases, it is so but, unfortunately, there are unpleasant exceptions, like the story happened in CPA Deux Rives figure skating club at École secondaire Des Sources, Quebec, Canada.

According to Canadian TV channel Global News, Hayleigh Abbott, who holds Quebec’s juvenile champion title, was kicked out of an elite figure skating program after speaking out about being multiple times bullied by another skater during training sessions.

“I feel really upset because I thought I could go somewhere in skating and I pretty much didn’t think I would stop because of someone bullying me,” Hayleigh said local reporters.

Canadian media are confident that the young skater is very promising for the country’s sports future, pointing out to her set of earned medals.

They note that Hayleigh’s coach Eric Therrien allegedly kicked her out of the elite program after she reported repeated bullying by an older male skater.

“He would pass her on the ice and he would just swear at her and just call her names,” said Cynthia Ruffino, Hayleigh’s mother.

Everyone knows that if verbal aggression is not stopped as soon as possible – and it is the responsibility of any coach – it quickly becomes physical.

“He would cut me off right before I would jump and he would speed at me really quickly and almost hit me. When I would fall he would just charge at me,” the young girl confessed.

The girl told parents about her problems and they decided to discuss the situation with her coach.

“Her coach told me this boy had an anger management problem,” Hayleigh’s mother said.”He had done it to two other children and he asked me to let him handle it and that was at the end of June.”

According to parents, nothing has been done and their daughter continued to suffer. At the beginning of this month, the young talent decided to stop skating. Parents were told she was expelled from the CPA Deux Rives figure skating club and could no longer be a part of the elite skating program at École Des Sources.

“The action of coach Eric Therrien to punish a victim of bullying is outrageous,” Hayleigh’s father Neil Abbott said.

Canadian reporters tracked down the coach in question, but he rejected to comment the situation.

“We have no comment on the subject.” said Therrien after he was asked about what happened to Hayleigh Abbott.

Skate Canada has launched a full investigation and a spokesperson said they are taking the complaint very seriously.

Despite all that had happened, the young skater is not ready to just give up.

“If they could have stopped it and I could have still skated I would because it meant the world to me,” Hayleigh said.

Photo: Anne Leclair

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