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'It's like an old boys' network' – Female coaches make plea for greater diversity to end athletics' fat-shaming culture

One of Britain's most successful female athletics coaches says there needs to be more women to break up the “old boys’ network” of “arrogant and egotistical” male coaches if the country’s culture of fat-shaming towards female athletes is to end.

Telegraph Sport on Thursday revealed endemic problems of a predominantly male-dominated coaching environment in Britain where female athletes being told to lose weight beyond what they feel is healthy is “normalised”.

Several of Britain’s leading female athletes, who have won multiple Olympic and world medals between them, told how a culture of bullying and fat-shaming has been rife at the highest levels of the sport for years. One issue they raised was the lack of gender diversity at the top end of coaching in Britain.

Just five of the 73-strong British team at the recent World Championships were coached by women and five of the 41 at the World Para Championships.

“old boys’ network”

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Consequuntur magni dolores

Christine Bowmaker, who looks after two of the World Championships squad - Laviai Nielsen and Finette Agyapong - says the current culture would not exist if there were more female coaches operating at the highest level.

“This would 100 per cent be different if there were more female coaches,” said Bowmaker, who has also coached global medallists Christine Ohuruogu, Asha Philip, Jodie Williams and Anyika Onuora.

“Of course male coaches can be empathetic, but it’s about getting a balance. Society is made up of men and women - not just men.

“There are too many arrogant and egotistical men who just think about themselves in this sport.

“If you go into the British Athletics team booklet and look at the number of female coaches, it is disgusting. It’s like an old boys’ network - you rub my back and I’ll rub yours. That’s why it’s hard for females to get in. We need a broad spectrum of people in the sport.”

“This would 100 per cent be different if there were more female coaches,”

Christine Bowmaker in The Telegraph

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