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'Disrespect': Ash Barty dragged into ugly Liz Cambage controversy

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Ash Barty and Liz Cambage, pictured here on the tennis and basketball courts.
Ash Barty has been dragged into the controversy surrounding Liz Cambage. Image: Getty

Aussie tennis great Todd Woodbridge has dragged Ash Barty into the ugly controversy surrounding basketball star Liz Cambage.

On Friday, Cambage hit out at what she claimed was a lack of racial diversity in Australian Olympic team promotional photos, threatening to boycott the Tokyo Games in protest.

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The two-time Olympian took exception to two separate photos - one released this week showing athletes from Australia's Olympic and Paralympic teams in apparel supplied by sponsor Jockey, but without a person of colour.

"If I've said it once I've said it a million times," Cambage, said in an Instagram story.

"HOW AM I MEANT TO REPRESENT A COUNTRY THAT DOESNT EVEN REPRESENT ME #whitewashedaustralia."

The Australian Olympic Committee conceded Cambage had a point, saying: "The athletes made available to Jockey could and should have better reflected the rich diversity of athletes who represent Australia at the Olympic Games."

Liz Cambage's angry rant, pictured here on Instagram.
The two photos Liz Cambage took exception to. Image: Instagram

The AOC added that there would be further photo shoots "that reflect our broad diversity of athletes".

But according to Woodbridge, Cambage "disrespected" the athletes in the photo and could have vented her anger in different ways.

“My initial thought was, don’t do it that way,” Woodbridge said on Channel 9’s Sports Sunday.

“Why do it that way? Why do it with the anger and the threats? 

"You cannot threaten to pull out of representing your country, you’ve got the privilege to be there and to do something special.

“If you want to do something like that, why don’t you do it the way Naomi Osaka did it? I mean, she changed the world. She didn’t have to get out there and use language and threaten us all that we’ve done the wrong thing."

Woodbridge said Cambage should take a leaf out of Ash Barty's book.

“I’d say, good on you for standing up for it but there are ways," he continued.

"We’ve got another great ambassador here in Australia we just spoke about, Ash Barty; she does it the right way. That’s not her style.

“I just believe there was a bit of disrespect for the athletes in the photo, who rightfully deserved to be in that photo."

Liz Cambage lashes out at 'abusive' former coach

Speaking out about the storm on Friday, Cambage's former coach Tom Maher - who coached the Opals to bronze and silver medals at the Atlanta (1996) and Sydney (2000) Olympics - expressed similar sentiments.

“It is inappropriate to make such a big deal out of pretty much nothing,” Maher said.

“There have been no bad intentions (in posts of the athletes). Was there a homosexual athlete represented? Was there a Chinese Australian athlete mentioned? I mean, where does it end?

“If I was coach, I wouldn’t entertain any threats at all. If she wants to come, she can come, but if she told me she was going to boycott I’d say, ‘Good luck, see you later’.

“She is a great player, but the issues need to be attended to in the right environment. Right now if you are an Olympian, you could make the protest without making the threat.

“That would be a more appropriate way of dealing with it."

Liz Cambage, pictured here responding to the haters on Instagram.
Liz Cambage hot back at the haters. Image: Instagram

But Cambage hit back after revealing the threats she'd received from online trolls, while also insisting that she had no intention of listening to the opinion of what she claimed was an "abusive" former coach.

“I DO NOT CARE FOR A WHITE MAN’S OPINION ON RACIAL ISSUES. NEVER HAVE. NEVER WILL”, Cambage wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of her sticking her tongue out.

“Especially when the comments come from one of the most abusive coaches I have ever had and past players no one cares about."

Cambage also posted a screenshot of a conversation about tracking down online trolls.

“Keep the threats coming boys,” Cambage wrote alongside a screenshot of one of the message streams.

Watch 'Mind Games', the new series from Yahoo Sport Australia exploring the often brutal mental toil elite athletes go through in pursuit of greatness:

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