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Wed Apr 23 19:26:48 SAST 2014

Jones spurred on by 'flab' uproar

Sapa-AFP | 29 July, 2012 13:450 Comments
Olympics - Previews - Day - 4
Leisel Jones of Australia looks on during a training session ahead of the London Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre in Olympic Park on July 23, 2012 in London, England
Image by: Clive Rose / Getty Images

Australia’s triple Olympic breaststroke gold medallist Leisel Jones said she was motivated to prove her detractors wrong as she began her campaign at the London Olympics on Sunday.

There was a national uproar last week over an Australian newspaper carrying unflattering photos of the 26-year-old former world breaststroke record holder implying that she was not in her best shape and was not taking her fourth Olympics in London seriously.

Australian Olympic team chief Nick Green said the article was disgraceful, while Australian Sports Minister Kate Lundy demanded an apology for Jones.

Jones said the comments were “pretty hurtful”, but they had motivated her to hit hit back at her critics.

“Those comments were pretty hurtful, especially to have comments like that coming from your own country,” Jones said after her fifth-fastest time (1:06.98) in the opening heats of the 100m breaststroke on Sunday.

“I swim in the pool, not in the papers. I am here to do my job and do it very well.

“I have made myself proud by being here and I’d like to think I have earned some credibility doing the job I have.

“I am not distracted by anything. It has really motivated me. I am one of those people you put me under pressure and I show what I can do.” 

Jones, winding down her pinnacle swimming career at her fourth Olympics, said she was overwhelmed by the public support she had received in the wake of the newspaper article.

“What impressed me was the amount of support I had afterwards. I have never had so much in my life and I am so thankful for that,” she said.

“Thanks to the journalists who wrote not such nice things about me because you have never made me feel so loved in my life.”

Jones has also competed at five world championships (2001-11), winning a total of seven gold, four silver and three bronze medals.

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Jones spurred on by 'flab' uproar

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