Sportswomen: Louise Hazel says she felt increased pressure to look good

Last Updated: 02/10/13 10:46am

Louise Hazel with Hayley McQueen on 'Sportswomen'

Former heptathlete Louise Hazel says she felt more pressured than ever to look good in the lead up to last year's London Olympics.

The 2010 Commonwealth Games champion, ranked the seventh best British heptathlete of all time, announced her retirement last month following a 12-year career in the sport.

And Hazel, who finished 27th at the London Games behind compatriots Jess Ennis-Hill who claimed gold and 20-year-old Katarina Johnson Thompson who finished 16th, said the pressure to look good and create sponsorship deals changed ahead of the Games.

"I felt that there was definitely a change in my attitude towards body image and the way to gain sponsorship and contracts," Hazel told Sportswomen, Sky Sports News' weekly show focusing on women's sport.

"I've never been that concerned with the way I look going into competitions, in the sense that I knew my main job was to go out and compete and do the best that I could do.

"But having said that, that changed in the build-up to the Olympic Games, when you knew you were competing for contracts and where there were just a handful of athletes who would get the support they needed.

"As an elite athlete there is pressure and as a female, to make sure you're ticking all of those boxes, it's very competitive."

Hazel also admits there is a problem with eating disorders amongst elite sportswomen and more must be done to support athletes who face such issues.

"Unfortunately it's still a very common problem that we're facing today," she said.

"I was very aware of training partners and also other members of the team that were suffering at the time. Sometimes people suffer in silence and sometimes people knew but perhaps there is a lack of support.

"I think it's really important as a coach and as parents that you pay attention to what's going on. Also their habits, be alert to the symptoms so you can support someone.

"I find that now my role as a personal trainer and nutritionist, I know more than I did as an elite athlete."

The Beat Adult Helpline is open to anyone over 18 who needs support and information relating to an eating disorder, including sufferers, carers and professionals.

Helpline: 0845 634 1414

Email: help@b-eat.co.uk

The Helpline is open Monday to Thursday 1:30pm-4:30pm

Sportswomen is live on Sky Sports News every Tuesday at 10.30am and is repeated on Sky Sports 1 at 6.30pm.

Are looks more valuable than talent for sportswomen?

  • Yes
  • No