“Gracious bridesmaid”? Seriously? I can’t even think of what the male equivalent of this would be, let alone conceive of any sports reporter who would write about a world champion male athlete this way.
Even Fairfax’s own online report on the win carries the headline: “Bronte upsets Cate in clash of the Campbell sisters.”
Sibling rivalry in sport isn’t new. The Waugh, Chappell, Brownlee and Burgess brothers were all pitted against each other to some extent by the media. As are the Williams sisters. It makes for a good story and one sure to appeal to anyone who has tried to be the “good sister” or shake the label of the “slowest brother”.
We share the longest relationship of our lives with siblings and they understand us better than anyone else. Even if all we do is fight. So there’s certainly a human interest angle in the Campbell sisters swimming against each other last night, but page after page of Google searches and I couldn’t find a single article about Bronte Campbell’s win that didn’t mention her sister in the first sentence.
There were seven other swimmers in the pool with Bronte Campbell last night. Penny Oleksiak is a Canadian world record holder and Olympic gold medal winner. Taylor Ruck won two Olympic bronze medals in 2016 and nine gold medals at the 2015 and 2017 World Junior Swimming Championships. Shayna Jack won two silver medals and a bronze in the relay events at the 2017 World Aquatics Championships. Erin Gallagher, Kayla Sanchez and Anna Hopkin are all world class swimmers who well and truly earned their place in the pool.
Bronte Campbell beat them all despite being, as she said herself, “held together by sticky tape”. It was a glorious win and a huge triumph over personal adversity. Surely she deserves more recognition for that than some imagined point-scoring in a manufactured bitchy-sister competition.
“I’m just excited. I haven’t had a personal best in a 100m freestyle for three years. To swim the fastest I have in three years in a final and come away with the gold is pretty special.” Yes it is, and that’s the achievement she should be celebrated for.