Australian swimmer Maddie Groves is standing by her decision to drop out of the Olympic trials and is thanking the fans that reached out to support her.
Groves shocked the Olympic community when she suddenly withdrew from the important trial earlier this week and explained it was due to “misogynistic perverts.” The 26-year-old penned an emotional message and shared it on social media on Friday, June 11. She explained that she considered staying quiet but ultimately decided dropping out to prove a point would be “worth it.”
Groves started her statement by showing extreme gratitude to her supporters.
“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 wrote. “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 trials 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 a 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 ‘benefitting’ from a culture that relies on people ignoring bad behavior to thrive. I need a break.”
“If starting this conversation will save even 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’s president Kieren Perkins told ABC that she reached out to the 26-year-old to get more information.
“This is a very concerning thing for us,” Perkins said on Friday. “These types of issues are, to be honest, the highest on my list as president that we need to be aware [of] and manage. We need to manage the safety of our athletes. That is paramount to us.”
In November, Maddie complained that someone involved with swimming made her feel “uncomfortable” by how the person was staring at the girls in their swimsuit. Perkins noted that they reached out to Groves in December but have not had any direct contact with her.
“We have reached out to her in December 2020 to engage with her on these concerns,” Perkins said. “Unfortunately at this point we haven’t been able to have a direct conversation with her to understand what her concerns are, who the people involved are, so we can investigate and deal with it.”
“We encourage her to do that because this is one of the most significant issues and challenges that we have in all sports to ensure that our athletes are supported and protected in their environment.”