On Tuesday night, two new achievements were set by British athletes at the Rio velodrome. Trott became the most decorated female British athlete ever after winning a gold in the Omnium. Her fiance, Kenny, claimed victory in the Keirin after a tense final which saw two false starts equalling Sir Chris Hoy's record six gold medals – the most for any British athlete. Their collective amount of medals would theoretically place them 13th in the overall medal table, above Spain and New Zealand.
Following Kenny’s victory, commentators described the emotional scenes between the couple, who are due to marry in September. As Trott tearily rushed to congratulate Kenny after anxiously waiting for the result commentator Chris Boardman said: “She’s doing the emotion for both of them really, he’s looking at her going: ‘What’s for tea?’”
The comment soon provoked ire with some perceiving the comment to be gendered and yet another example of casual sexism at the Olympics.
Following the backlash, Boardman clarified his comments had “nothing to do with gender”.
His wife Sally also defended him saying he is a feminist and his comment was “misinterpreted” when responding to The Pool columnist Sali Hughes who had quoted him on Twitter.
Clare Balding, who has been fronting the Velodrome coverage throughout the games, also appeared to make light of the comment by sharing a selfie of herself and Boardman with the hashtag #whatsfortea.
Boardman’s comment is not the first remark to spark debate from a BBC commentator. Earlier this week, Andy Murray was widely praised on social media for “reminding” John Inverdale that “women are people too”. The praise came after the presenter wrongly proclaimed the tennis champion to be the “first person ever to win two Olympic tennis gold medals”, apparently forgetting Venus and Serena Willliams have won four golds each.
Prior to this, the BBC apologised for an “ill-judged” comment from tennis commentator Paul Hand who said: “Let's hope they don't go onto two blokes sat next to each other” when discussing the 'kiss-cam' which was targeting tennis spectators. Hand was also criticised for describing the emotional response of male tennis players, including Murray, as “not macho” after the 29-year-old won gold.
A representative for the BBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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