Outrage After Olympian Is Asked About Her ‘Masculine Appearance’ And Marriage Plans In TV Interview

by : Hannah Smith on : 06 Aug 2021 12:58
Outrage After Olympian Is Asked About Her 'Masculine Appearance' And Marriage Plans In TV InterviewPA Images

Chinese netizens have accused a reporter of sexism after they asked a female Olympian whether she would change her ‘masculine appearance’ in order to find a husband.

Fresh off of winning a gold medal in the women’s shot put at Tokyo 2020, Gong Lijiao was answering questions from the media when a journalist from her home country decided that her sporting achievements were less interesting that her future marriage plans.


During the interview, the female reporter from Chinese state broadcaster CCTV asked Gong a series of invasive questions about her personal life.

Gong Lijiao (PA Images)PA Images

‘Gong Lijiao gives me the impression of a masculine woman,’ the reporter said in an introduction to her interview, before cutting to a clip of her interview with the newly crowned Olympic champion, in which Gong tells her, ‘I may look like a manly woman on the outside, but inside I’m still more of a girl.’

The journalist continues, ‘You used to be a masculine woman for the sake of shot put. But moving forward, can you be yourself?’ A surprised-looking Gong replies, ‘Um… maybe I’ll look at my plans. If I don’t train then perhaps I will lose weight, get married and have children. Yes, it’s the path one must take in life.’


The awkward interview, which was translated by the BBC, continues as the journalist asks even more questions about her personal life, including questioning whether Gong has a boyfriend, and, bizarrely, whether she’d be able to beat a future partner in an arm-wrestling contest.

‘I don’t arm-wrestle. I’m very gentle,’ Gong laughs in response.

Shot put champion Gong LiJiao (PA Images)PA Images

The interview has quickly gone viral on Chinese social media, with Weibo and Douban users discussing the ‘casual sexism’ under the hashtag ‘is marriage the only thing that can be talked about women?’.


‘Won an Olympic gold medal, still can’t shut up this group of nosy women,’ one person wrote, while another accused the female journalist of ‘body-shaming’ Gong.

Gong herself has since come out to say she was unimpressed with the line of questioning. In response to a Weibo comment that read, ‘It’s not that she can’t get married, it’s that no man is her match… when we talk about women, it’s not just about marriage or looks, but also dreams and achievements,’ the gold medalist commented, ‘This totally expresses what I feel! Thank you!’

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Hannah Smith

Hannah Smith is a London-based journalist at UNILAD. After studying History at UCL she worked for print publications on both sides of the pond, including spells at Harper's Magazine and The Times, before graduating with an MA in Newspaper Journalism from City, University of London.

Topics: Sport, China, Now, Sexism


  1. BBC

    China: Backlash over marriage question in Olympian's interview