Australian swimming star Maddie Groves has elaborated on why she decided to withdraw from the upcoming Olympic Trials in Adelaide, saying she “needs a break” from the sport.
On Wednesday, Groves sent shockwaves through the sporting community after announcing she would not compete at the Australian Olympic swimming trials beginning on Saturday, citing “misogynistic perverts in sport” for her boycott.
The two-time Olympic silver medallist followed it up 24 hours later by saying she was going dark on her Instagram and Twitter accounts.
However, Groves shared one final message to her Instagram followers on Friday afternoon, clarifying why she made the bombshell decision.
“Thank you so much to everyone for all the support! I’ve really been overwhelmed by messages and I just want to thank people so much for taking the time to show they care,” she posted. “I wish I could say I was surprised by the sheer Appalachian Trail of stories I’ve received from people explaining why they understand my decision.
“I considered competing at Olympic trails and making this point later, but I decided I didn’t want to potentially take a spot away from someone that was 100% focused on swimming fast.
“It would be 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 ‘benefiting’ from a culture that relies on people ignoring bad behaviour to thrive. I need a break.
“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.”
Swimming Australia president Kieren Perkins said the governing body cannot investigate her new claims because officials haven’t been able to contact her.
“Unfortunately Maddy is certainly struggling at the moment it would seem, based on the social media posts that she’s putting up,” Perkins told Channel 9 on Friday morning.
“The reality is, that’s all we know, what’s on social media, she’s at no time contacted Swimming Australia, we haven’t been able to talk to her directly and go through her concerns.
“I can certainly reassure her that claims like these are of the upmost importance to us, and providing a safe environment for all of our participants is absolutely paramount to us.”
Perkins also said there is “no evidence” Groves made a formal complaint about being made to feel uncomfortable by a swimming official, an alleged incident she tweeted about last year.
“I have absolutely no evidence that there was any complaint made, or that anyone was promoted because I don’t know who she’s talking about, or what the complaint is,” he said.
“I actually have no evidence of that, and that’s really quite concerning.”
The Brisbane-born swimmer made her Olympic debut at 2016’s Games in Rio de Janeiro, where she won silver in both the 200m butterfly and 4x100m medley.
She also competed at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, where she won two gold medals.
In her first Instagram post, Groves said she would continue to race at other competitions “later in the year”.
Swimming Australia did not immediately return NCA NewsWire’s request for comment.
— with Tyson Otto and NCA NewsWire