It has been a good week for Australian swimming star Alicia Coutts. After it was widely reported early this month that after collecting five Olympic medals she could not attract sponsors, earlier this week she signed a two year deal with Speedo and on Friday night was presented with the Australian Institute of Sport Athlete of the Year Award.
Coutts shares the award with Tom Slingsby Men’s Laser Olympic Gold Medalist.
Others swimmers to have won the award include Brenton Rickard, Michael Klim, Petria Thomas, Karen Phillips, Michele Pearson and Linley Frame.
Jones Continues to Speak Out on Bullying
Now that a review of the culture of Australian Swimming is underway Leisel Jones has elaborated on her comments made after the Olympics on the issue of bullying of teammates at the Olympic Games.
When the story initially broke it was reported that Jones was the most vocal opponent of this type of behavior. Upon announcing her retirement she also elaborated on the bullying issue to The Telegraph a local Sydney newspaper.
“Yeah I definitely had to stand up and say a few things,” said Jones
“With all due respect to the people on the team, they’re still my teammates. But I’m pretty happy to be clear about where I stand.”
“I stand pretty firm against bullying and it’s definitely against my values, and I’m very strong on that.”
“I’m very intolerant to bullying. You see it a lot in schools and I certainly don’t tolerate it in my place of work.”
Quite often this type of behavior is excused away in the sporting environment of a way to ‘toughen up’ fellow teammates or by some of the classics of ‘boys will be boys’ or ‘they are just being teenaged girls’.
Whatever the reason or the excuse may be in recent years we have seen bullying taken to extremes where young people have not only felt ostracized or out of place, but to where they are harming themselves and others.
It is surprising to see bullying to this extent is happening at the Olympic Games, but just because those involved are some of the best athletes in the world doesn’t mean that they have good judgment.
Jones does go on to say , “I don’t think it’s a cultural problem, we’ve just got a really young team at the moment and it will take a lot of time for them to grow and mature and learn about how the team participates,”
“Something like that needed to happen and shock the system and then move on.”
“I think the rest of the world should be a little bit scared that Swimming Australia has gone through this phase because we will be world beaters again.”
Star Swimmers Continue to Inspire Young Swimmers
Since the Olympic Games many current and former Australian Swimming stars have been reaching out to the community to help inspire a new wave of young swimmers.
Athletes such as Stephanie Rice, James Magnussen, Leisel Jones, Travis Mahoney, Alice Tait, Matt Cowdrey and Sarah Katsoulis have visited many different communities across Australia over the past month.
The most recent being Christian Sprenger, Libby Trickett and Lara Davenport who attended the Swimming & Lifestyle Clinic in Alice Springs where they spoke to over 100 school children.
The swimmers shared inspirational words along with offering the children tips they could use in the pool and in their development of a healthy lifestyle.
Trickett and Sprenger both shared their feelings on the visit with Swimming Australia.
“This is the third time I’ve been on one of these community visits to central Australia and it’s great to be able to share some experiences with these kids and see the smiles on their faces when they swim,” said Trickett.
“They are so energetic and keen to get in the water which is fantastic to see.”
A silver medallist at the London Olympics in the 100m breaststroke, Christian Sprenger was definitely a crowd favourite, especially when he presented his medal for a show-and-tell session.
“It’s really awesome to show them what a medal looks like, up close and personal, and everyone is always surprised at how heavy it is,” said Sprenger.
“To see these kids have so much fun in and around the water on a hot day, reminds you of everything you love about the sport and just swimming for fun.”
“Hopefully we’ve been able to pass on a few tips to these kids and who knows we may see some of them at club and state meets in the near future.”