Liz Cambage slams 'abusive' coach in fresh Olympic boycott fallout

·4-min read
Liz Cambage is pictured here during a basketball game.
Liz Cambage has doubled down on social media after being criticised for her Olympics threat. Pic: Getty

Australian women's basketball star Liz Cambage has launched a stunning new tirade on social media after threatening to boycott the Tokyo Olympic Games on Friday.

The Opals and WNBA star slammed Olympic officials on Friday over a lack of diversity in promotional photos of the Aussie team.

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Taking to her Instagram story on Friday, the WNBA star pointed out the lack of racial diversity in a number of photo shoots of members of the Australian Olympic team.

The 29-year-old posted two photos, the first which featured Aussie Olympian and Paralympians modelling underwear from the team's official supplier Jockey.

The second photo showed athletes at the launch of the Australian team's official uniforms for the Tokyo Olympics.

“If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times. HOW AM I MEANT TO REPRESENT A COUNTRY THAT DOESN'T EVEN REPRESENT ME #whitewashedaustralia,” Cambage wrote.

Seen on the right, Liz Cambage and a promo shoots for the Australian Olympic team on the left.
Liz Cambage took exception to the lack of diversity in promo shoots of the Australian Olympic team. Image: Jockey/Getty

The caption for the second photo, which featured Indigenous rugby sevens player Maurice Longbottom, read: “Also fake tan doesn’t equal diversity.”

Cambage's commentators sparked a storm on social media, with many agreeing with her sentiments, while others took aim at the manner in which she aired them.

One of the 29-year-old's former coaches - Tom Maher - who coached the Opals to bronze and silver medals at the Atlanta (1996) and Sydney (2000) Olympic Games respectively, was particularly scathing of Cambage's actions.

“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’.

Pictured here, former Australian women's basketball coach Tom Maher.
Former Opals coach Tom Maher says Liz Cambage's criticism was conducted in an 'inappropriate' manner. Pic: AAP

“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.”

Maher coached Cambage at the Bulleen Boomers in their WNBL championship-winning season in 2010-11 after famously challenging her to get in shape, following a return from the WNBA in the United States.

The Boomers' title triumph also coincided with Cambage being named the WNBL’s MVP in the same season.

Cambage hit back on social media on Friday night 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.

Cambage doubles down on social media

Taking to her Instagram Stories to call on Australia to "wake the f**k up", she took a number of swipes at various members of the basketball fraternity.

Screenshots of two of Liz Cambage's Instagram posts are seen in this photo.
Liz Cambage left some explosive messages for her detractors on social media after threatening to boycott the Tokyo Olympic Games. Pic: Instagram

“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,” she wrote in a follow-up post.

Cambage then posted a screenshot of a conversation about tracking down online trolls guilty of sending her abusive messages.

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

A spokesperson for the Australian Olympic Committee conceded the photo shoot with Jockey that sparked Cambage's anger in the first place was troublesome and “should have better reflected the rich diversity of athletes who represent Australia at the Olympic Games”.

“The AOC does however have a very proud history of celebrating and promoting diversity in all its forms," the AOC said in a statement.

"From Indigenous reconciliation, people of colour, gender equality and all forms of diversity, the AOC is rightly proud of its record.

“With regard to this photoshoot, however, we acknowledge while proud of the athletes involved and proud of our association with Jockey, it should have better reflected the diversity of our Team.

“The Olympic Charter commits us all to oppose any form of discrimination.”

with agencies

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