Banter Over Tia-Clair Toomey’s Olympic Performance Continues to Grow

Tia-Clair Toomey during the Ocean Swim at the 2016 Reebok CrossFit Games
©2016 CrossFit Inc. Used with permission from CrossFit Inc.

It all started with an Instagram post by crossfitphotojournal on the Tuesday (July 19) before the CrossFit Games started. The photo of Tia-Clair Toomey was complimented by a caption that included a comment from Toomey about other (Australian) weightlifters protesting her qualification to represent Australia at the Olympics.

The post received the standard number of likes generally received by CrossFit posts. The post didn’t garner that much attention as it was overshadowed by the upcoming CrossFit Games. Tia-Clair Toomey went on to finish 2nd later that weekend.

Two weeks later, Toomey competed in Rio at the 2016 Olympics. Toomey placed 14th out of 16 lifters in the 58kg weight class. Toomey received praise for accomplishing something that no other athlete had done before, compete (and podium) at the CrossFit Games and compete at the Olympics in the same year.

That praise, however, was not given by Roy Masters of The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH). Masters’ article criticized Toomey’s 14th place finish at the Olympics stating that “bizarre events such as handstand walking, ocean swimming and ‘suicide sprinting’ does not prepare a woman for the snatch and clean and jerk of Olympic weightlifting.”

CrossFit, Inc. quickly took notice of the article and blasted Masters and SMH publicly. Russ Greene took to blog to defend CrossFit and Tia-Clair Toomey while criticizing Masters’ journalism.

This was followed by a CrossFit Journal article published yesterday. The editorial piece does not address Masters’ “faults”, but rather focuses on CrossFit’s influence on the sport of weightlifting in Australia. Toomey told the CrossFit Media staff prior to the CrossFit Games that she “wouldn’t be going to Rio if not for the Sport of Fitness (CrossFit).” The Journal article continues by stating that Australia’s Olympic quota was secured by the help of another CrossFit and former Games athlete, Pip Malone, as well as Kiana Elliott, who was also introduced to weightlifting through CrossFit.

Then today, Kiana Elliott chimed in on the topic of Toomey and the Olympics and CrossFit’s coverage of what has transpired. Elliott believes that the CrossFit Journal’s editorial piece is “just as guilty of selecting and deselecting information that suits their agenda as the original opinion piece (by Masters in the SMH).” Elliott continues to elaborate on what she knows happened and didn’t happen during the Australian Olympic Trials and qualification process.

This will all settle down over the coming weeks and will probably be mostly forgotten once the Olympics wrap up with the closing ceremony on August 21. Regardless of who’s side you’re on, there is no denying the fact that Tia-Clair Toomey has done something that no one else has ever done, competed in the CrossFit Games and the Olympics in the same year.