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Athletes slam Leisel Jones' pre-Olympics body scrutiny.

Melbourne, July 25 ( ANI ): Former Olympians have leapt to the defence of champion swimmer Leisel Jones, who has come under fire for her physical appearance just days before competition kicks off in London.

Former Olympic swimmer Hayley Lewis said that she feels sorry for Jones as she faces scrutiny over her pre-Olympics body.

Some observers had suggested that the 26-year-old was battling her weight in similar fashion to when she walked away from the sport in 2009 for a 12-month sabbatical.

Lewis said the talk was unwarranted.

"I think it's a little bit unfair and I think that at that stage of the competition and you're days out from the Olympics...I think it's very unfortunate for such a great sportsperson such as Leisel that she has to hear about things like that," News.com.au quoted Lewis as telling SEN Radio.

She said that it was clear Leisel's body had changed over her career and the swimmer would surely be feeling it.

"She's obviously coming to the end of her career and your body does change as you get older. She probably knows within herself that she doesn't feel quite 100 per cent fit," she said.

"When standing next to one of the younger, slimmer girls she probably doesn't look like she's fighting fit but in saying that she's never had that figure anyway, so I think it's a bit unfair.

"Leisel has never had that tiny straight up and down, very sinewy, lean swimmer's body and she's managed to win countless amounts of Olympic and Commonwealth Games medals," Lewis said.

Australian athletes have taken to Twitter to rally behind Jones with fellow Olympic swimmer Melanie Schlanger leading the way.

"I'm embarrassed by the Aussie media having a go at Leisel, one of Australia's greatest Olympians. Support athletes don't drag them down," Schlanger tweeted.

Australian swimmer Alice Tait who had recently hung up her boots said that Leisel didn't need to deal with the issue so close to the Games.

"Leisel is a beautiful girl at her 4th Olympic games, she shouldn't have to deal with this nonsense so close to competing," Alice tweeted.

"The questioning over Leisel Jones fitness due to an unflattering photo is exactly what many girls have body image issues! Makes me so angry!" she said.

But Women's sporting news website Super Sports Women said that Jones' performance would be the true test.

"Cold hard facts: #Leisel Jones does not look in peak condition for Olympics. Coach says she's ready to go so we'll soon," the website tweeted.

Her renewed outlook has thrown up fresh controversy for a young woman who never seems far from it, with coaches privately frustrated at her condition heading into the Games.

Giaan Rooney, a fellow Olympian, said Jones' shape hadn't fluctuated and showed his frustration on the social network website.

"Anyone commentating on Leisel's weight three days out from the Olympics should be ashamed. Should be celebrating our athletes not pulling them down," Rooney said.

Rooney also told 3AW that Jones had "never put herself up there as a super slim, incredibly cut athlete".

"She's never had that body shape. It's worked for her for the last 12 years so why would we be changing anything now?" she said.

"What is it going to do for her state of mind? We're meant to be backing our athletes three days before the swimming starts in London. She's always had an unusual body shape in terms of what the other swimmers look like.

"Leisel has always been very strong through her hips, very strong through her legs...She needs to be - she's a breaststroker. I look at that photo and I'm only going off that photo, but I don't think her physique has changed at all," she said.

Rooney further stressed that the pictures depicting a poolside Jones - who is set to become Australia's first female swimmer to compete in four consecutive Olympic Games - had captured an "unflattering" angle of from above and her physical condition wasn't as big of a concern as what has been suggested.

"She wouldn't be here in London if coaches were worried about how she was going to perform," she said.

"She's definitely got her work cut out for her; I'm not saying it's going to be easy for her at all. But, in saying that, she's done the work to get here and she deserves the same right as everyone else to be judged on her performance and her performance alone," she added. ( ANI )

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Publication:Asian News International
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 25, 2012
Words:764
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