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Backlash after Olympian asked about her ‘masculine’ appearance and marriage plans in interview

Written by on 06/08/2021

There has been a backlash online in China after a TV reporter asked a gold medallist about her “masculine” appearance and her plans for marriage.

Gong Lijiao won the shot put in Tokyo on Sunday with a personal best distance of 20.58m.

In an interview with state-owned broadcaster CCTV after she had won, the athlete was asked about whether she was in a relationship and if she would win in an arm-wrestle with a prospective partner.

Gong Lijiao in the final of the shot put
Image: Gong Lijiao in the women’s shot put final in Tokyo

The questions and comments have been criticised for being sexist.

The reporter, Lu You, said: “Gong Lijiao gives me the impression of a masculine woman.”

The 32-year-old was then asked about her future plans.

The reporter said: “You used to be a masculine woman for the sake of shot put. But moving forward, can you be yourself?”

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Gong replied: “Um… maybe I’ll look at my plans. If I don’t train then perhaps I will lose weight, get married and have children. Yes, it’s the path one must take in life.”

When the athlete was asked about arm-wrestling, she said: “I don’t arm-wrestle. I’m very gentle.”

The interview questions have been the subject of debate online with the microblogging site Weibo asking, “Is marriage the only thing we can discuss about women?”

The debate has been read more than 350 million times, with over 160,000 posts.

Many people gave their support to the athlete, including one person who wrote: “It’s not that she can’t get married, it’s that no man is her match… when we talk about women, it’s not just about marriage or looks, but also dreams and achievements.”

The Olympic champion responded to the post, saying: “This totally expresses what I feel! Thank you!”

 Sky News

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