By Hanna Ibraheem
When Beth Tweddle took part in a Twitter Q&A, it was a chance for her to wave the flag for women in sports.
Until, that is, the trolls arrived…
For the duration of the online chat on Tuesday morning, the gymnast’s impressive achievements as a sportswoman - a bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympics being just one of them – were shrouded by a barrage of vile misogynist abuse. She was asked if she wanted “cock” or “anal” and called a “slut”. “On a scale of 1/10 how pig ugly would you class yourself?”, one tweet read. Others – from predominantly male users – asked the 28-year-old, “Beth Tweddle, why did you turn down the role of Lord Voldemort?”, or "do you think pregnancy is a poor injury excuse and women should be able to run it off?"
Refusing to be silenced, Beth took to her Twitter page to thank everybody for their support. She wrote: “Yesterday was unfortunate but I've been heartened to see the reaction from responsible twitter users.
“A few people did something wrong, were called out on it and apologised. This demonstrated that abuse isn't tolerated.” She added: “I hope everyone continues to react the same way by reporting abuse no matter who is on the receiving end.”
The attacks highlight the issues women still face in sports: despite the rise of female stars like gold medal winners Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton and Nicola Adams, who are forced to defend themselves against sexist, derogatory abuse. Just last month, professional swimmer Rebecca Adlington was reduced to tears on national TV due to her lack of body confidence after being attacked online.
Sky, who was hosting the Q&A on their Sky Sports News account, stated that they were “appalled” by the abuse, “This experience highlights some of the unacceptable and offensive attitudes that can be encountered by women in the public eye.”
We couldn’t agree more.