Canadian kayaker Adam van Koeverden blasted his friend and fellow Olympian Adam Kreek over ‘sexist’ comments he made about tennis player Eugenie Bouchard’s performance at Rio 2016.
Kreek, a gold-medal rower from the 2008 Beijing Games, told CBC’s Ron MacLean that he thought the tennis player was more focused on her looks and what she was wearing than in competing.
“She’s posting photos of herself. She’s holding up the toothpaste. She’s trying out different hairstyles. Maybe she wants something different than being a competitor,” Kreek said.
Van Koeverden responded with a blog post taking Kreek to task.
READ MORE: Rio 2016: Adam van Koeverden ready for Rio after break in training
“I don’t think Adam is an expert on tennis. I’m certainly not. So I initially questioned why he was commenting on Eugenie’s game at all,” van Koeverden wrote. “But at around the one-minute mark, I realized it wasn’t a lesson in tennis Adam needs, it’s a lesson in feminism.”
“He even did a girlish impression of her ‘trying out different hairstyles’, seemingly as evidence that she isn’t focused on winning, or that having an interest in fashion, beauty or anything else might detract from one’s performance,” van Koeverden wrote. “Since when is having a pastime a bad distraction?”
“He may as well have asked her, as one Australian reporter did a few years ago, to ‘give him a twirl.’”
Van Koeverden also chided Kreek over the defensive stance he took when other Olympians expressed concern over his comments on social media.
<head drop> (sigh) et tu? I would expect more that this from Adam. and Ron. and CBC. Getting tired of it. https://t.co/vua4SOcv4C
— Marnie McBean (@MarnieMcB) August 10, 2016
Agree with @MarnieMcB, your assumptions as to her motivation didn’t work for those of us advancing women in sport. https://t.co/gZI1sHyHI2
— Chandra Crawford (@ChandraCrawford) August 10, 2016
Van Koeverden then went on to point the finger at the media’s coverage of the Rio Games.
Writing about the four-time medalist at Rio 2016, Penny Oleksiak, van Koeverden wrote that despite all of her accomplishments, too much of the coverage has been focused on her looks.
“She’s strong, performs under an immense amount of pressure, she’s an amazing team player and demonstrates the sportsmanship, media savvy and poise of someone twice her age,” van Koeverden wrote. “Yet sadly, the headline on the cover of the Toronto Sun this week was “Pretty Penny.”
In the post, van Koeverdan also wanted to make it clear that he wasn’t sticking up for the female athletes because “they don’t need my help.” He explained that he believed if he didn’t express his thoughts he would just be adding to the problem.
“If men don’t call out men when we are being sexist, then we are not a part of the solution, and the problem persists,” van Koeverden wrote.
“Feminism isn’t for females. It’s for everyone. Good men should feel comfortable challenging each other’s prejudices, and accept criticism when those prejudices get the better of us, or when we make a mistake.”