Road To The Olympic Games

Olympics

Lanni Marchant disgusted by comments about women in sport

Lanni Marchant says she first took up running because she knew where she stood when she crossed the finish line. She knew if she'd won, she knew if she hadn't. No subjective judging.

Canada's fastest female marathoner defends points she made in House of Commons

Canada's Lanni Marchant received online criticism for comments she made in the House of Commons about women in sport. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Lanni Marchant says she first took up running because she knew where she stood when she crossed the finish line.

She knew if she'd won, she knew if she hadn't. No subjective judging.

"It didn't matter what you looked like crossing the finish line," said Marchant.

Canada's fastest female marathoner told the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage this last week when she was invited to the House of Commons to speak on girls and women in sport.

A week later, she was angrily defending her point. It seems more than a few people missed it entirely.

Following Marchant's testimony, an online running forum lit up with pages of scathing comments, pouncing on her "risque" running uniforms that have "less material than the average teenage girl's underwear."

"My feathers have been ruffled about this, especially since it's taking away from the important points I did make at the House of Commons," Marchant said about the forum thread, brought to her attention by a friend. "It's pretty ugly, there are some pretty dirty things, it's pretty vulgar, it's pretty disgusting. And I hope that none of these men and women who are commenting on there have daughters."

Notable comments on the forum

The 32-year-old Marchant spoke while she waited to board a flight to New York where she's racing the New York City Marathon on Sunday.

Among the comments on the forum: "On one hand she spoke about how women should be judged on their athletic ability yet on the other hand she is portraying herself in a sexual manner. Is she not talking out of both sides of her mouth now?"

Said another: "Don't dress like you are going to the beach then complain that you are have been objectified!!"

And another: "If you don't want me to look at your T&A then don't put it out on display."

It was her comments about female athletes and appearance that her critics honed in on. They even picked her apart for a pair of Instagram photos of herself in a cocktail dress.

"I really hope these people posting don't have daughters that play indoor volleyball or are on a swim team. And I hope your daughters don't come home in tears (from hurtful comments)," Marchant said. "What are you going to say? Well, you shouldn't have been swimming in that bathing suit? You shouldn't be wearing volleyball shorts? When did a sports bra and shorts become sexual? That's the issue.

"You never blame the rape victim for wearing a short dress to the bar, why blame the athlete for saying, 'Hey guys, I'm an athlete.' 'Well you're wearing a sports bra and shorts so we really can't take you seriously as an athlete."

New York City Marathon debut

Marchant is making her New York City Marathon debut after turning down the invitation a couple of times in the past. In previous years, she'd been chasing qualifying standards for various events, and so scheduled her racing accordingly.

"Now I want to run marathons and other races that I want to run for me," Marchant said. "I felt that if New York kept asking and I kept saying no, eventually they'd stop asking and I wanted to make sure I got to do it and it fit really well this year, and it's been a bucket list one that I always wanted to do."​

Sunday's marathon field includes 19 Olympians.

Defending champion Mary Keitany of Kenya headlines the women's field. With a blistering personal best of 2:18.37, Keitany is the second-fastest woman in history behind Britain's Paula Radcliffe.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?

now