Fat? Really? Olympic hope laughs off official’s jibe – but others aren’t amused

 

The row over remarks branding the champion heptathlete Jessica Ennis “fat” escalated today as other female athletes spoke of similar taunts.

The comments were reportedly made to Ennis’ coach last year by a high-ranking official in UK Athletics who also said she was “carrying too much weight”.

The 5 feet 4 inches poster girl for Team GB who is one of the best hopes for Olympic Gold, weighs 8 stone 13 lbs. today she laughed off the remarks about her famously honed physique, reportedly made to Tony Minichiello. “Its not something I worry about. I can just kind of brush it off and ignore it,” she said. Fellow athletes today sprang to Ms Ennis’ defence. Team mate Louise Hazel branded the remarks “ a disgrace” and said she had been subject to similar harassment about her weight.

“It's not a nice feeling to be called overweight. Some people think that you have to look like you are completely emaciated to actually be in physical shape and that’s not the truth,” she said. She added: “There needs to be more support rather than more criticism and it is as simple as that.” Minichiello told The Guardian that “people in high positions ... should know better” and that Ennis did not need distractions in the run up to the Games. But he played down the row today, pointing out he did the interview with the paper in November and saying: “I think the biggest problem I’ve got this week is counting to ten.”

Susan Ringwoood, chief executive of b-eat, the eating disorders association, said the comments were “completely unacceptable”. “We know they are unhelpful to anyone, let alone someone in peak physical perfection. ”

Athletes have a unique body composition, she said. “They have much more muscle, which is heavy, and very little body fat. You can be slender and muscled and appear to be heavy for your height. The nature of an athlete’s sport also affected their body shape. Sprinters needed explosive power with lots of muscle while marathon runners needed lean bodies built for endurance. Heptathletes such as Ms Ennis required a bit of everything.

The remarks are all the more surprising because sporting bodies are increasingly sensitive to female body image issues. On its website the IOC dispenses advice to women, warning of “scientific evidence that, under certain circumstances, the healthy body image of some female athletes can suffer through sport.”

There are an estimated 1.6 million people with eating disorders in the UK , caused by a desire for perfection and control which is undermined and turned inward as a destructive force by low self esteem.

Triathlete Hollie Avil, who represented the UK at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, earlier revealed she had suffered from an eating disorder after a coach’s comment.

The former World junior champion said she virtually starved herself after being told in 2006 that the best way to improve her swimming was to watch her weight .

“You start cutting things out of your diet and it all catches up with you until it possesses your life,” she said.

UK Athletics declined to comment.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future