An Australian newspaper is in hot water after insinuating an Olympic swimmer and three-time gold medalist is overweight.
Leisel Jones, a champion swimmer for the Australian Olympic team, was attacked by the Melbourne Herald Sun earlier today, just two days before the start of the 2012 Olympics in London.
The paper posted a poll asking readers if they think she is in shape enough to compete. Alongside the poll was a very unflattering photo of Jones with the caption, “The Olympic veteran’s figure is in stark contrast to that of 2008.”
The Australian Olympic team chief, Nick Green, slammed the Sun’s suggestion that the 26-year-old athlete may be out of shape, denouncing it as “disgraceful.”
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The Daily Mail quotes Green as saying, “She is a triple Olympic gold medalist for this country, I think she deserves a lot more respect than she has been given.”
Added Jones’ coach, Michael Bohl, “she’s been doing nine sessions a week and two gym sessions a week coming into this, and we were really happy with her form.”
Discussions on weight aren’t anything new, especially when it comes to women in the media. Usually the criticism is saved for supermodels and actresses, but now even athletes are under fire.
It’s disappointing to see publications that aren’t gossip rags stoop to this level. The media has gone beyond celebrities to athletes—people who aren’t supposed to be as small boned as others. Athletes have muscles, yet their fit stature is mistaken as “fat.”
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Jones’ has apparently remained relaxed and denied feeling pressured about her weight. This is Jones’ third appearance at the Olympics. Four years ago in Beijing, she took home the gold medal for the 100-meter breastroke.
With three gold medals, and possibly more within the next few weeks, Jones certainly has the last laugh. Let the Olympics begin!