Controversy plagues Aussie Olympic team
Wed, 25 Jul 2012 6:36p.m.
By Australia Correspondent Rachel Morton
The Australian Olympic team is continuing to attract controversy with accusations of sexism, racism and now the fitness of a female swimmer has been questioned.
Leisel Jones has made history for Australia just by showing up to the games. She’s the first Australian swimmer to compete at four Olympics, but critics say she should be feeling the pressure after unflattering photos of her were released. They say she is too unfit to compete.
“It’s just so nice to have no pressure on so I thinks it’s going to be great rivalry and soak it all up and really enjoy it for what it is,” says Jones.
And Australian Olympic great Cathy Freeman has raced to defend the eight-time medal winner.
“I think it’s very un-Australian to be quite frank and I think all of us, including the powerful media, need to be supporting our athletes,” says Freeman.
Meanwhile shooter Lauryn Mark was reduced to tears at training – frustrated by poor form and upset by a column written by Eddie McGuire accusing her of indulging in soft porn by posing for a series of photos.
“I think he crossed a line, I find it unacceptable [and] Lauryn’s beside herself,” says her husband, Russell Mark.
And the athletics team is in the headlines too.
Four hundred metre runner John Steffenson claims he was racially abused at the Beijing games by a team official and nothing was done – claims backed up by his team captain.
“At the time I thought John was treated pretty poorly with the way that was handled,” Australian pole vaulter Steve Hooker.
And then there’s the flag bearers scandal – Natalie Cook is threatening to boycott the opening ceremony if a woman isn’t chosen to carry the flag.
That decision will be made later this week, and despite her outburst being described as “not in the Olympic spirit”, Cook is the favourite with bookmakers to carry out the honour.
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