Just days before the Australian Olympic swimming trials, Maddie Groves has pulled out of the event in Adelaide. For any swimmer, the event presents the opportunity of a lifetime, one that only comes around every four years and promises Olympic entry for a select few. For Groves though, the event is now one she will not be participating in as her last-minute withdrawal has been touted as a lesson to “all misogynistic perverts in sport.”
If you’re not familiar with the star swimmer, you should be. Groves won two silver medals at the Rio Games just five years ago and was looking to qualify for her second Olympics at the national trials. At just 26 years of age, her resume already reads like one few athletes could ever dream of, a testament to the grit and determination Groves shows towards her sport of swimming. It makes her decision to pull out of the national trials all the more significant and saddening.
In a separate message posted on Thursday “for emphasis” and to “make them pervs quake in fear from the number of people supporting a statement that threatens their existence”, she made allegations about her treatment by an unnamed individual involved in the sport. Groves wrote, “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.”
So far, the AOC has not commented on Groves’ exit, nor has Swimming Australia. It’s not the first time Groves has made such allegations. As The Guardian reports, “In November last year, she alleged a person she worked with had made her feel “uncomfortable” by the way they looked at her in her swimming suit. Groves, who has endometriosis and adenomyosis, has also alleged she was body shamed and told that she did not “deserve more help” following two surgeries.”
Since releasing her first statement, Groves has issued another on her social media page where she explained, “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.”
The news comes after basketball star Liz Cambage recently clapped back at body-shaming from an opposing team’s coach. During the game, the coach of the Connecticut Sun’s made shameful comments about Cambage’s height and weight, and was subsequently fined $10,000 and suspended for one game by the WNBA. Still, that body shaming remains prevalent in sport in 2021 is a concerning fact that remains to be addressed. We may have had the Time’s Up movement in Hollywood, but in sport the movement has barely begun.
As Groves said in her statement, “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.”
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