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Why are we talking about swimmer Leisel Jones' weight?

One of the pictures of Jones.

What’s everyone talking about today? Twenty-six-year-old Olympic swimmer Leisel Jones’ weight.

It comes after a Melbourne newspaper ran photos of Jones, which were taken while she was training in London yesterday, alongside photos of her from the 2006 games and asked readers if they thought she was fit enough to swim.

The woman has won eight Olympic medals. Eight. She’s a champion of epic proportions and has just qualified for her fourth Games. And yet everyone is sitting around saying she doesn’t ‘look’ like a champion swimmer? Surely the point should be that she swims like a champion swimmer.

Fairfax reports:

LEISEL Jones’ coach, Michael Bohl, has vehemently rejected suggestions she was treating the Olympics as anything other than serious competition, and says she has been performing well in training and is in good condition to compete next week. “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”

Some feel that Jones is not in the best shape and is treating London as a farewell tour, not taking it as seriously as she had the previous three Games, where she won a total of eight medals.

The good news is Jones’ current and former teammates and other social commentators have thrown their support behind her and made a lot of noise voicing their support.

Giaan Rooney said on Twitter: “Anyone commentating on Leisel’s weight three days out from the Olympics should be ashamed. Should be celebrating our athletes not pulling them down.”

Sing it sister.

Giaan also told radio station 3AW: “I also don’t think Leisel has ever put herself up there as the super slim, incredibly cut athlete. She has never had that body shape, and it’s worked for her for the last 12 years so why would we be changing anything now? Leisel has always been very strong through her hips, she has always been really strong through her legs….She needs to be, she’s a breaststroker, and for me I don’t think there’s any difference [in her weight]. In fact I would love to ask the question after the Olympics whether she’s the same weight now as she was 12 months ago because for me, I would think it’s an unflattering photo angle.”

Retired swimmer Alice Tait said: “The questioning over Leisel Jones fitness due to an unflattering photo is exactly what many girls have body image issues! Makes me so angry!”

Melinda Tankard Reist tweeted:

Melinda Tankard Reist

Then there’s this from Hayley Lewis, via The Herald Sun:

“I think it’s a little bit unfair and I think that at that stage of the competition and you’re days out from the Olympics…I think it’s very unfortunate for such a great sportsperson such as Leisel that she has to hear about things like that,” Lewis told SEN Radio.

She said it was clear Leisel’s body had changed over her career and the swimmer would be feeling it.

“She’s obviously coming to the end of her career and your body does change as you get older.

“Leisel has never had that tiny straight up and down, very sinewy, lean swimmer’s body and she’s managed to win countless amounts of Olympic and Commonwealth Games medals.”

Yes! Yes! Fist pump time! Why has everyone forgotten that she qualified FOR THE OLYMPICS? (They’re a big deal you know, happen every four years, champions only etc?) And that it’s her 4th Olympics? (That is 12 years of being one of the best in the world at something, 12 years!) And that she’s about to set a record for being the only Australian to ever achieve that? And that if she wins one medal in London she’ll equal Ian Thorpe’s overall tally?

We’re exhausted just thinking about all of that. And surely it is those achievements and the ones that are still ahead of her – and not the size of her thighs – that should be worthy of our attention.

Your thoughts?

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