Former Olympian Adam Kreek has apologized for comments he made about Eugenie Bouchard’s tennis loss at the Summer Games.
Last week, the 35-year-old blamed the athlete’s performance on her use of Instagram, claiming she was more focused on her looks than sports.
“When I look on her social media,” Kreek told CBC’s Ron MacLean, “she’s posting pictures of herself, she’s holding up the toothpaste and she’s trying out different hairstyles.”
“For me as a sports fan, I’m not interested in watching that,” he continued. “But there are people out there that want to see someone, you know, pursuing beauty and fashion and this sort of thing. And maybe that’s, ‘I got into the tennis world and I want to leverage this.’”
Now, following criticism from athletes and fans, the gold-medal rower has offered an apology to Bouchard and all female Canadians competing at the games on his website.
“In a recent commentary, I questioned Genie Bouchard’s commitment to her matches in Rio based on her focus on social media and sponsorship activities. It was not fair to place my assumptions directly upon an athlete that I do not know personally. I did not mean for my comments to offend. Nor was it my intention to belittle the pursuit of fashion or selfie-art. For this, I apologize.”
He continued: “Our Canadian women at Rio are incredible. They are bringing home the maple bacon this Games. They have moved me to cheers and to tears. I feel nothing but regret when I think that my inadvertent comments, on live TV, could take any attention away from these heroes of our Games.”
“I feel nothing but regret when I think that my inadvertent comments, on live TV, could take any attention away from these heroes of our Games,” he wrote on his official blog.
He also stated his intention was not to belittle female athletes, but instead to delve into the issue of distractions during sporting events.
“Can an athlete perform at their peak while also focusing heavily on sponsorship and social media? It’s a personal question for me. I have experienced first hand a scenario where athletes’ focus on media and outside influences have negatively impacted performance – my Men’s 8+ in Athens, 2004.”
The blog was published after Kreek was called out by fellow Canadian athlete Adam van Koeverden (and others) for the comments.
“I don’t think Adam is an expert on tennis. I’m certainly not. So I initially questioned why he was commenting on Eugenie’s game at all,” van Koeverden wrote. “But at around the one-minute mark, I realized it wasn’t a lesson in tennis Adam needs, it’s a lesson in feminism.”
“He even did a girlish impression of her ‘trying out different hairstyles’, seemingly as evidence that she isn’t focused on winning, or that having an interest in fashion, beauty or anything else might detract from one’s performance,” he added. “Since when is having a pastime a bad distraction?”
“He may as well have asked her, as one Australian reporter did a few years ago, to ‘give him a twirl.’”
– With files from ET Canada