After an explosive social media post that called out “misogynistic perverts,” Olympic silver medalist Madeline Groves made a splash when she announced she was pulling out from her quest for Gold.
Groves, a competitive swimmer from Australia, started her Olympic journey as a baby and though her expectations to win Gold was high, in 2021 she announced she was withdrawing from the Covid-postponed Tokyo 2020 summer games.
Keep reading to learn more about Groves and why she dropped out of the Olympic trials!
Australia’s Madeline Groves, now 28, is a back-to-back Australian national champion in the 200m butterfly from 2013 to 2016, and a double silver medallist from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
A 2x Commonwealth Games gold medalist, Groves made the shocking last-minute announcement of withdrawing from the Australian Olympic Swimming Trials, that would have qualified her in the Olympics, which is a rare opportunity for any athlete.
On June 9–the Olympics started July 23, 2021–Groves posted a Tweet, claiming she was quitting due to sexual harassment by others involved in the sport.
In a since deleted Tweet, Groves wrote: “Let this be a lesson to all misogynistic perverts in sport and their boot lickers – 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.”
Previously, Groves shared on social media that she felt uncomfortable while training when a man was staring at her in her swimsuit.
She Tweeted, “We didn’t really have a #metoo moment in swimming but just realising maybe it was this weirdo staring at my [chest] when I’m trying to swim.”
Continuing the thread later that day, she posted, “Sorry I shouldn’t say that, I think he went through some personal development first hopefully to teach him to not stare at young women in their toga [swimsuit], THEN he got promoted.”
Reuters reports that Groves elaborated and said that a “well known coach” made a “creepy comment” to her and apologised 15 minutes later, “possibly because the team psych told him to.”
Following her December comments, Swimming Australia said they reached out to Groves, inquiring about the abuse. But “Maddie declined to provide further information, nor do we have any previous complaints on record from Maddie.”
One week after her big announcement, Groves offered some clarity: “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 behaviour to thrive.” Groves, who twice had surgery for endometriosis, continued, “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.”
During a three-month investigation, Groves explained that the “bad behavior” started when she a junior swimmer.
“I remember very clearly when I was 12…I was complimented for losing weight, which I distinctly remember thinking was strange, because I was 12. It just seemed confusing to me that I would be complimented for losing weight.,” she said in an interview with ABC Australia. “And really, from that time, nothing changed. It just really felt like a free-for-all, from all staff and coaches, at sort of every level of competitive sport, to make inappropriate comments about young girls’ bodies, and that is perverted to me.”
But she refused to identify the suspect(s), who still work(s) in swimming.
“I don’t think I really want to report it to police,” she said. “It’s obviously a huge process emotionally … and then it doesn’t necessarily end up working out that well…It ends up being really disappointing…and things don’t really seem to change. It’s sort of swept under the rug.”
When Groves refused to cooperate in the investigation, her problems were also “swept under the rug.”
The athlete explained “…there’s no one in swimming that I would trust disclosing that to now, either.”
At the end of 2021, Swimming Australia defended itself, revealing that “Groves declined to be interviewed by an independent investigator, who found the complaint against the organisations was ‘unsubstantiated.’”
“Deciding not to compete at Olympic trials was…in a way like a cry for help that hopefully someone would listen and maybe do something about this huge issue in Australian sport,” Groves said. “It just really seems like there is this vicious cycle of using and abusing female athletes until they’re burnt out and broken.”
Since then, it appears that Groves is back in the pool, swimming with a new team and competing locally.
What do you think about Madeline Groves protesting abusive behaviors by dropping out of the Olympics?