12 February 2015Brave Beth says she forgives Twitter trolls
Olympic hero Beth says she’s forgiven Twitter bullies who attacked her appearance and said she looked like a ‘horse’.
The decorated Bunbury gymnast was bombarded with offensive and sexist questions during a live Q&A about women in sport last year.
The 29-year-old, who won a bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympics, has now said she has learnt how to deal with the online trolls and has moved on from the hurtful attacks.
“I think it’s always difficult when it’s attacking how you look because there is not a lot you can do about changing that,” said the Queen’s School girl, speaking during an interview on Radio 1 last night (Tuesday, February 11).
“It is hard when you hear people saying you look like a horse.”
Sky Sports were forced to issue a statement condemning the “unacceptable and offensive abuse” the Dancing on Ice champion received while answering sports-related questions in a slot called The Everyday Sexism Project last January.
One man tweeted, “Are all sportswomen lesbians?” while another said, “Do you think pregnancy is a poor injury excuse and women should be able to run it off?”
Beth, who has competed at three Olympic Games and won three gold medals at world championships, said she was shocked and hurt by the abusive comments but knew replying would just make things worse.
“If you start to reply to them you’re giving them the satisfaction that they know that you’ve read it - and it has hurt you,” she said.
“Whereas if you ignore it, because it is at the end of a computer or a phone, they don’t even know whether you’ve seen it.
“If you start to retaliate it’s only going to make it worse because then they’ll retaliate back and it’ll just end up as a Twitter war.”
Since retiring from gymnastics in August 2013 Beth has remained in the public eye, wowing the nation with her glitzy performances on Dancing on Ice, coming third in the All-Stars programme last year, and making guest appearances on BBC show Tumble.
Beth, who won six golds at European championships during her gymnastic career, said many of the people who attacked her later apologised, sending tweets saying they ‘didn't realise how hurtful they would be.’
“A lot of the time you’re sat behind a computer or behind a tablet phone or whatever it is that you use the social media on, and these people - they don’t realise that actually it’s a person at the end of that that’s going to receive that Twitter message or that Facebook message,” said the celebrated Olympian, who recently modelled charity scarves for Alder Hey alongside brave four year old Erin Cross.
“Whether they were told to apologise, I don’t know, but I accepted their apology and I moved on from it.”
Beth was speaking out about her twitter trolls as part of a week of shows on Radio 1 tackling cyberbulling.
She told listeners to speak out if they were being bullied, online or in person.
“It is OK to speak about it and it’s not always easy.
“You know what it’s like when you’re in school and there was something said to you. You don’t want to say something in case the backlash is worse than what it is.
“But it’s better than suffering in silence.
“The one thing that gymnastics taught me was, ‘Before you sent the tweet, would you like your nan to read it?’ And that is one thing that I've always stuck to.”
Following the interview listeners took to social media to support Beth - who was named the Chronicle's Champion of Champions in 2012 - tweeting they 'respected [her] achievements' and calling her 'a little stunner'.