Middle-distance runner Sarah McDonald was training along a Birmingham canalside when she was assaulted by a man on a moped
British athlete Sarah McDonald has spoken out about being assaulted while out training for the Olympics in Birmingham earlier this week.
GB middle-distance runner McDonald was warming up with her training partner at a canalside when two men on a moped drove past her and one of the men “grabbed [her] bum”.
McDonald, who specialises in the 1500m, took to social media to bravely open up about her experience, stating on Twitter that she had been heckled before but that this encounter was “completely different”.
Unfortunately today I experienced something that wasn’t acceptable, while warming up for my session on the canal towpath 2 men passed me on a moped, slowing down so the man on the back could grab my bum. As a runner I’ve been heckled and had things shouted but this was 1/2
— Sarah McDonald (@SarahAMcDonald) February 24, 2021
The New Balance athlete later stated that the response she’d received from her social media post was “overwhelming” and confirmed that she would be reporting the matter to the police.
This latest assault comes after several Welsh athletes told the BBC that they had experienced more regular abuse as a result of outdoor training due to pandemic restrictions.
Sprinter Rhiannon Linington-Payne told Women’s Running in an interview that she saw this abusive behaviour as a systematic problem “stemming from society, not just in sport”.
But it’s clear that violence, sexual assault and verbal abuse towards women are particularly rife in sport at the moment – Sarah McDonald told her Twitter following to “look after each other” as the attack had been a “wake-up call” for her.
While we must be vigilant, we mustn’t let abusers dictate our lives and stop us from doing what we enjoy. We need support from local authorities, as demonstrated by Welsh Athletics working with South Wales Police to crack down on these attacks.
We commend Sarah McDonald for further bringing this abuse into public consciousness and we hope her abusers are brought to justice.