Olympic legend calls for Games age limit

From news.com.au

OLYMPIC legend Shane Gould wants athletes aged under 18 banned from Olympic competition to protect them from exploitation and burn-out.

Gould said the Olympic movement uses athletes and forced her to sign away rights to photos of her in the 2000 Sydney Olympics opening ceremony.

The five-time Olympic medallist said she was told if she wanted a photo from the ceremony she had to pay $100.

Australian Olympic Officials said athletes were well supported and an age limit was not needed.

Gould won three gold medals, a silver and a bronze in individual swimming events at the 1972 Munich Olympics when she was aged just 15.

Under intense public pressure, she retired from international swimming at just 16.

Gould said athletes were “pawns in the game” of the Olympic movement and should not be involved until they were adults.

“Anyone under 18 I don’t think should be allowed to go to the Olympics,” she said.

“They can be used.”

The 50-year-old mother-of-four said sport was now too commercial, with athletes losing their childhoods to excessive formal training.

Gould said they missed crucial unstructured play, which was an important part of development.

Too many women athletes, she added, were also either sexualised or, like she was, “criticised”.

"Sport to me I think has gone in an unhealthy direction and

I think it has to be constantly reviewed," she said. "Sport is now commerce.

“I think junior sport is over-organised and they’re (children) not being able to play and explore. Let kids be kids.”

Gould said a truly great sportsperson needed to be a rounded individual.

Triple Olympic sprint silver medallist Raelene Boyle agreed sport was too commercial and children were burning out.

But she said banning under-age Olympians would cause a public outcry if the likes of Ian Thorpe missed out.

Boyle, 55, would like to see a more rounded attitude to sport so children enjoyed it more.

“Too many children lose interest because they’re pushed just too damn hard too damn early,” she said. “They’ve had it up to their jugulars by mid teens so they don’t bother doing anything.”

Olympic marathon runner and Victorian Institute of Sport chair Steve Moneghetti, 44, agreed banning under-18s would be too hard. He said some parents had too much influence on their children’s careers, but banning youngsters wasn’t the answer.

“They’re getting to such higher levels at a younger age now, I don’t think you can stop that,” he said.

An Australian Olympic Committee spokesman said Gould was “misguided” and age limits were not needed.

He said underage athletes had extra mentoring and guidance governed by an ethical behaviour by-law. The AOC was also mindful of retired athletes’ futures, and ran career-oriented programs for them.

How about an age limit on the Olympic Officials instead?

amazed they got Raelene to comment she doesnt normally like to make comments :eek:

Most kids cannot even get into their country’s Olympic team, except for a few islanders and some from impoverished African nations. I do recall Maria Mutola ran at the Seoul Olympic when she was 15. She survived.

But then she didn’t have to survive the ordeal of fire of pestilence that little athletics has brought . anyone wanting to know why the pool is so shallow in country’s with little aths (or the equivalent) need seek no further to answer that question.

Most people will do one thing for no more than 10 years. Kids who start training at 6 are charcoal by 16 - the age when they can start thinking about doing some serious training.

Great question.


Will there still be female gymnastics if no one under 18 is allowed to compete?

It would definitely clear the pervs out of the stands! Don’t know how big a crowd that would leave.