Olympic teen trumps troll
Team GB weightlifter Zoe Smith has rebuffed an online commenter who called her and her colleagues 'manly' as Australian athletes leap to the defence of Leisel Jones.PT2M32S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-22pnj 620 349 July 25, 2012
Elite sport can be a tough place for young women.
Take Anna Meares, Australia's world champion cyclist who clawed her way back from life-threatening injury to claim a silver medal in Beijing and now finds herself locked in one of the highest profile rivalries of these games with British golden girl Victoria Pendleton.
I've never met any blokes that look like me if I'm honest, and I assure you that the three of us get a surprising amount of attention considering '9/10 lads wouldn't look at us'! Get a clue
The coolest of competitors on the track, Meares was privately devastated to read a British tabloid newspaper's reference to her as the "broomstick" to Pendleton's "lipstick" earlier this month.
Characteristically unflappable ... Anna Meares. Photo: Getty Images
"And, as she modelled a grass skirt made entirely of blue electrical flex, Pendleton promised to turn the cables again on Aussie arch-rival Anna Meares at London 2012," the Mirror purred.
"Not to put too fine a point on it, Pendleton and Meares are not close pals. In the pin-up stakes, you can decide which one's the broomstick and which one's the lipstick."
Devoting their lives to the pursuit of sporting excellence and making all the sacrifices that accompany that devotion appears to be not enough. A body, honed to maximum utility through years of training, must also seemingly be commercially palatable on top of extraordinarily capable.
Pin-up girl ... Victoria Pendleton. Photo: Getty Images
Most ignore the jibes.
Meares, when asked about the endless comparisons between her and Pendleton, was characteristically unflappable.
"I don't think it is necessary but each to their own," she said. "Everyone has an opinion [to] which they are entitled. I don't get involved in it."
"We're in 2012" ... Zoe Smith expressed sadness at finding there were many young women among her detractors. Photo: Getty Images
But this week, a young British weightlifter fought back.
Zoe Smith, 18, was branded a "lesbian", a "bloke" and was told by a commenter to "piss off to the kitchen to make her boyfriend a sandwich" in the wake of a BBC documentary, Girl Power, that charted her and two others' bids to make the Olympic team.
Instead of turning the other cheek, as many athletes are advised to do, Smith took the anonymous critic to task on YouTube, then penned a blog post to vent her frustrations.
Zoe Smith ... hit back at jibes against her. Photo: Getty Images
"The obvious choice of slander when talking about female weightlifting is 'how unfeminine; girls shouldn't be strong or have muscles; this is wrong'. And maybe they're right … in the Victorian era," Smith said on her website.
"To think people still think like this is laughable, we're in 2012! This may sound like a sweeping generalisation, but most of the people that do think like this seem to be chauvinistic, pigheaded blokes who feel emasculated by the fact that we, three small, fairly feminine girls, are stronger than them. Simple as that."
The teenager handled the vicious online commenter superbly, dead-batting the jibes that were left over a five-day period in the comments field of the BBC's YouTube channel.
"Nah, we aren't [lesbians]. But that's alright cause we wouldn't marry you either," Smith wrote in response to the commenter's first insult.
"Funny you are," she fired back in response to the next accusation. "I've never met any blokes that look like me if I'm honest, and I assure you that the three of us get a surprising amount of attention considering '9/10 lads wouldn't look at us'! Get a clue."
The Greenwich teen continued the defensive assault in the face of "Russian shot putter" comparisons and accusations she was unfeminine.
But she also expressed sadness at finding there were many young women among her detractors.
"What makes me sad is that some girls had this opinion too! How ironic that the title of the show was Girl Power. You'd think that young women around the same age as us would commend us for doing something different and with our lives, and putting 100% effort into it in order to make something of ourselves," she said.
"But apparently we're 'weird' for not constantly eating crap, binge drinking regularly and wearing the shortest, tightest dresses that the high street has to offer. Sigh…"