Leisel Jones has won eight Olympic medals for Australia and next week the 26-year-old Olympian will be competing in her fourth Olympic Games. But that hasn’t stopped the Australian media from criticizing her appearance.
According to the Australian, several papers from the land down under carried a story yesterday that compared Jones’ 2008 Olympic body to her current shape. The reports questioned Jones’ ability to compete in the Olympics this year and polled readers to see if they also thought that Jones was fat.
Jones will seek to prove her athletic ability during the 2012 London Games this week, but in the meantime several athletes and coaches have come out in her defense.
“I think (the photos) are disgraceful, to be honest… I’m disappointed with the article and I think they’re extremely unfair on Leisel Jones and the work she’s done for this country at this level. She’s a triple Olympic gold medallist, a winner of eight medals for this country and I think she deserves a lot more respect than she was given…. I’m pleased that there’s been unanimous support for Leisel Jones by her fellow competitors (and) by other athletes. I’ve seen comments from Cathy Freeman, Giaan Rooney, Libby Tricket… I think it’s just unfair that she’s been targeted in this way on the eve of what for her is historic competition – a fourth Olympic Games.”
Jones will become the first Australian swimmer to compete in four Olympic Games when she lines up on the blocks this week. Some of her critics say that Jones only earned a spot on the Olympic team this year because of what she’s done in the past.
Former Olympic champion Giaan Rooney said that the claim was ridiculous.
“She wouldn’t be here in London if coaches were worried about how she was going to perform. That’s the bottom line… She’s here under great grounds. She’s definitely got her work cut out for her. I’m not going to say it’s going to be easy for her at all. But in saying that, she’s done the work to get here and she deserves the same right as everyone else to be judged on her performance and her performance alone.”