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Elinor Barker says she has experienced sexism "again and again" throughout her career

Says assumption is when men crash, it’s because they’re pushing the limit, whereas if women crash, it's because of a lack of skill...

Elinor Barker says that she has repeatedly faced sexism throughout her career. The Olympic and world champion track cyclist highlighted attitudes to the inclusion of the women’s Madison in the Olympics as being one recent example.

Barker was speaking in relation to a BBC Sport survey which found almost two-thirds of British elite sportswomen had experienced sexism.

"I would absolutely put myself in that two-thirds," she said. "I would say I've experienced it again and again throughout my career. At least since I started cycling when I was 10.”

The women's Madison will be raced for the first time at the Tokyo Olympics. Barker pointed to a couple of different areas where some people’s attitudes to men’s and women’s racing differed with regard to the event.

"I think there are a lot of people that said it shouldn't happen, which was very frustrating to hear," she said. "And now it has started, there are a lot of people who already consider it's going to be complete and utter carnage.

"What continues to frustrate me again and again is this assumption that when men crash in racing, it's because they're going as hard as they can, they're pushing the limit. If they do something dangerous it's because they're in control, but they're risking it all for the win. Whereas a lot of the time, if women crash, it's because of a lack of skill.

“That's the assumption a lot of people make and say to female athletes in that race and don't consider it to be offensive at all. It's ignorance, I think. That's pretty much it."

Barker has previously spoken about some other ways in which women’s track racing is treated differently. In 2017, she highlighted the use of “fluffy” music during races as something perhaps less obvious, but nevertheless damaging.

“The choice of music while the women are racing can often be quite trivial and it downgrades the racing a little bit.

"When the men have got awesome rock theme tunes to their racing, it makes it more exciting and it draws the crowd in, whereas when the woman's is on, there's this sort of fluffy music and it doesn't make the crowd that excited.

"There are different levels to it. Equality needs to be across it all rather than just focusing on the pay gap. It needs to be all these little things to raise the profile of women's cycling.”

While she believes the situation is improving, Barker still feels that her performances would be viewed differently if she were a man.

"I think things are getting better,” she said. “That said, I think there is quite a long way to go with people's attitudes.

"I don't necessarily get the same comments that perhaps I would if I was a man on my performances and on my career and any of my achievements, which can be quite frustrating."

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