Olympic Swimmer Drops Out Of Trials, Blasts 'Misogynistic Perverts' In Shocking Statement06/11/2021
The sports world is having a reckoning right now.
Recently, tennis experienced a shakeup when Japanese champion Naomi Osaka bowed out of the French Open to protect her mental health from the press. Now, in a similar move, Australian swimmer Maddie Groves has announced that she will not be participating in her country’s Olympic trials ahead of the Tokyo games, making a point about misogyny in the sport.
The athlete, who won two silver medals during the 2016 Olympics in Rio, shared her decision on Instagram earlier this week, writing that she would continue to swim in other competitions and encouraging fans to watch the trials anyway.
However, when she reposted the message to Twitter, she added this incendiary statement:
“Let this be a lesson to all misogynistic perverts in sport and their boot lickers – You can no longer exploit young women and girls, body shame or medically gaslight them and then expect them to represent you so you can earn your annual bonus. Time’s UP”
The 26-year-old didn’t mention specifics in her post, but she has tweeted about uncomfortable encounters with older men in the past. In November 2020, she shared:
“Just remembering the time a well known coach (not mine) asked me about uni and I told him one of my subjects was ‘Love, Relationships and Sex’ and he said in this creepy af voice “oh, you’d know allllllll about that ” ”
“He came up to me like 15 minutes later and apologised, I think possibly cause the team psych told him to. Like dude I’m 20 please leave me alone and don’t make creepy comments to me when I’m just trying to be on the Australian Swim Team”
And in December 2020:
“Can I just say, that I definitely made a complaint a few years ago about a person that works at swimming making me feel uncomfortable the way they stare at me in my togs, and I think they’ve possibly been given a promotion since”
“Woah guys this may have worked. Next time you have a weirdo stare at your tits and your complaint falls on deaf ears, try tweeting about it. … I didn’t even say where they worked so good on that workplace for immediately knowing it’s their shitness. Did they recognise my complaint because they already had it on file?”
Swimming Australia, the sport’s governing body in the country, pushed back on her accusations of misogyny and claimed they hadn’t been able to have a “direct conversation” with Maddie to understand what her concerns are or who the people involved are, so they can investigate and deal with it.
The organization’s president, Kieren Perkins, told ABC on Friday:
“This is a very concerning thing for us. These types of issues are, to be honest, the highest on my list as president that we need to be aware and manage. We need to manage the safety of our athletes. That is paramount to us.”
“We encourage her to because this is one of the most significant issues and challenges that we have in all sports to ensure that our athletes are supported and protected in their environment.”
In a follow up post on IG, Maddie said:
“Thank you so much to everyone for all the support! I’ve really been overwhelmed by messages and I just want to thank people so much for taking the time to show they care. I wish I could say I was surprised by the sheer Appalachian Trail of stories I’ve received from people explaining why they understand my decision.
I considered competing at Olympic trials and making this point later, but I decided I didn’t want to potentially take a spot away from someone that was 100% focused on swimming fast.”
“It would be a mistake for anyone to reduce my decision to a singular incident. My decision is partly because there’s a pandemic on, but mostly it’s the culmination of years of witnessing and ‘benefitting’ from a culture that relies on people ignoring bad behaviour to thrive. I need a break.
If starting this conversation will save even just one young girl from something like being told to lose weight or diet, not going to the Olympics will have been worth it.”
A post shared by Maddie Groves (@mad_groves)
Whatever comes from Maddie’s stance, we’ve seen elsewhere in the sports world that starting a conversation can be a crucial first step in enacting change. And if skipping out on this year’s Olympics is best for her well being, more power to her. She’s still a champion regardless!
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