Maddie Groves has pulled out of the Australian Olympic swimming trials just days before the event begins in Adelaide, saying her last-minute withdrawal should be a lesson to “all misogynistic perverts in sport”.
Groves, who won two silver medals at the Rio Games five years ago, was aiming to reach her second Olympics at the national trials, which start this weekend and run for six days. But the 26-year-old butterfly specialist, also a two times Commonwealth Games gold medallist, announced her decision not to compete in a social media post on Wednesday night.
In a separate message posted on Thursday “for emphasis” and to “make them pervs quake in fear from the number of people supporting a statement that threatens their existence”, she made allegations about her treatment by an unnamed individual involved in the sport.
“Let this be a lesson to all misogynistic perverts in sport and their boot lickers,” she wrote. “You can no longer exploit young women and girls, body shame or medically gaslight them and then expect them to represent you so you can earn your annual bonus. Time’s up.”
Swimming Australia has been contacted for comment. The AOC said it was not in a position to comment on Thursday.
Groves has made similar allegations in the past. In November last year, she alleged a person she worked with had made her feel “uncomfortable” by the way they looked at her in her swimming suit. Groves, who has endometriosis and adenomyosis, has also alleged she was body shamed and told that she did not “deserve more help” following two surgeries.
Following her decision to pull out of the running for this year’s Olympics, she said she intended to return to competitive swimming after the Tokyo Games. “I’m so grateful to feel so supported in this decision,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “I feel very relieved and I’m looking forward to racing at some other competitions later in the year.
“I’m so excited to watch everyone at trials (streaming on Amazon y’all) and to see who will be representing Australia in Tokyo – whatever happens I genuinely think this will be one of the fastest Australian swim teams ever and I encourage everyone to get on the bandwagon early. Best of luck to everyone competing at Olympic trials but most of all to my beautiful team from @moretonbay_swimming.”
In her first Olympic appearance in 2016, Groves won silver in the 200m butterfly and the 4×100 medley. Her last medal at a major event came at the Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo in 2018, when she won gold in the 4x200m freestyle.