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Athletes slam Leisel Jones 'fat' comments
11:30 AEST Wed Jul 25 2012

Former Australian athletes have come out in defense of swimmer Leisel Jones after a Melbourne newspaper ran a poll asking readers if they thought she was fit enough to swim and suggesting she had put on weight.

The Herald Sun published photos of the 26-year-old taken during her first training session for the Olympic Games in London and compared it to a highly posed shot of her taken in 2008.

The caption under the picture read: "The Olympic veteran's figure is in stark contrast to that of 2008," and an online poll asked readers if they thought she was fit enough to swim.

The poll question had been removed from the website by 10.30am.

A number of athletes have spoken in support of Jones, along with fans who voiced their anger on Twitter.

Former Olympic swimmer Giaan Rooney told the Sydney Morning Herald the photos were taken from a bad angle and suggestions Jones was in poor shape were "incredibly unfair and incredibly judgmental".

"I would love to ask the question after the Olympics whether she’s the same weight now as she was 12 months ago because for me, I would think it’s an unflattering photo angle," Rooney said.

Rooney also suggested speculation about the swimmer's weight could hurt her state of mind before the competition.

Retired swimmer Hayley Lewis also defended Jones while speaking on sports radio station SEN, saying the comments were "unfair" and did the swimmer and women in general no favours.

Meanwhile, former swimmer Alice Tait tweeted: "The questioning over Leisel Jones fitness due to an unflattering photo is exactly what many girls have body image issues! Make me so angry!"

Jones coach, Michael Bohl also rejected suggestions she was not treating the Olympics competition seriously, saying she was in good condition.

"She's a different sort of athlete ... she's not a young 14 or 15-year-old girl that's doing 10 really hard sessions a week," Bohl said.

"She's probably at the end of her swimming career, she's doing nine sessions a week, two gym sessions a week and we've been happy with her form (in recent months)."

Twitter users also came out in support of Jones.

Triple J announcer Scott Dooley tweeted: "Am I the only one who finds this "Leisel Jones is fat" thing utterly disgraceful?"

Sport reporter Todd Balym said: "I sincerely hope Leisel Jones wins a medal and equals Thorpie's record of nine Olympic medals. Wouldn't be upset if she was flag bearer either."

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