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Fourth-Place Medal

Public pushback against ‘fat’ comments of Aussie swimmer Leisel Jones

Fourth-Place Medal

Australian swimmer Leisel Jones

What happens when you call an eight-time Olympic medalist fat?

People get mad. Real mad.

Not only did the Melbourne-based Herald Sun suggest that four-time Australian Olympic swimmer Leisel Jones doesn't quite fill out her swimsuit as well as she did in prior Games, but editors published a poll asking if she was fit to swim in London. A photo caption in the paper read: "The Olympic veteran's figure is in stark contrast to that of 2008."

It didn't take long for seemingly everyone with an opinion on the matter — fellow Olympians, health advocates and the Twitterverse -- to come to her corner. Outrage pushed the paper to take down the poll in a matter of hours.

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

"It's not very friendly or encouraging at this stage," former Australian sprinter Cathy Freeman told the Herald Sun "I think it's very un-Australian, to be quite frank."

[ Related: Female Olympic weightlifter fires back at Internet haters ]

Leisel, 26, has swam in the Olympics since the 2000 Sydney Games when she was 15. She owns three gold medals, four silvers and a bronze. Her record is secure.

But, admittedly, she doesn't look like the same girl she used to when wearing a form-fitting swimsuit. The question that comes up is: Does it matter? Is it the media's place to question the fitness of an athlete who has already proved herself by making the team in the first place?

It makes headlines. And more eyes will certainly be on Jones when she does swim in London to see if she's anywhere close to her medal form of the past.

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