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Australia's Olympic coaching blasted as a 'boys' club' after coach slammed for 'toxic masculinity'

Male domination of Australia's Olympic coaching ranks has been slammed just days after the wild celebration of swimming coach Dean Boxall was condemned as an act of 'toxic masculinity'.

Writing for women's careers website Allbright, journalist Brooke Le Poer Trench recalled a conversation with her husband after he wondered why there were so few Australian female swimming coaches at the Tokyo Olympics.

'Maybe the male style​ of coaching is better at that elite level?' Le Poer Trench said her husband asked. 

She then described her reaction to the comment as fuming.

'It's obviously a boys club,' she wrote. 'It's unconscious bias. Or perhaps it's even more blatant than that. 

'Men are not better at training elite athletes. You know that, right? 

'This is about opportunity.' 

In the opinion article, Le Poer Trench quoted former Australian Sports Commission boss Kate Palmer who also called high-performance sports in Australia 'a boys' club that systemically excludes women from senior coaching positions'. 

Dean Boxall (left), Ariarne Titmus' Olympic swimming coach, had drawn criticism for 'toxic masculinity' as the debate continues over the lack of high-performance female coaches in Australian sport

Ian Thorpe's coach Tracey Menzies (left), pictured in 2002, was one of the last females to coach a swimmer at Olympic level 

At the Rio Olympics only nine per cent of accredited high performance coaches were female, which fell from 12 per cent at the previous Games in London 2012. This was despite there being more female athletes on the team than male at the Rio Olympics.

'The ASC and sports must now address a glaring issue which is the low number, and a declining trend, of elite female coaches in high performance and at major sporting events like the Olympic and Paralympic Games,' Ms Palmer said in 2017.

One study found that in all female sports played in Australia, excluding netball, only 25 percent of the coaches were female.

Swimming Australia generally brings six-to-eight high performance athlete coaches to each Games, but the last female to be included was Ian Thorpe's coach Tracey Menzies in 2004.

In 2020 the Australian Institute of Sport announced an internal taskforce to help identify and develop more female coaches for high-performance Australian athletes.

Ariarne Titmus after her victory in the women's 200m freestyle event at the Tokyo Olympics

Ariarne Titmus hugs her coach Dean Boxall after her win in the women's 200m freestyle event at the Tokyo Olympics

A sample of the online criticism of Australian swimming coach Dean Boxall after his celebration of Ariarne Titmus' win

The boys' club accusations come as Dean Boxall, the coach of double gold-medal winning Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus, was attacked for displaying 'toxic masculinity' during his wild celebration of Titmus' 400m freestyle victory last Monday.

Boxall ripped off his mask during an excitable dance in the stands after Titmus' first gold medal, grabbing a balustrade and ignoring the directions of a venue official.   

Afterwards a number of Americans described Boxall's behaviour as 'toxic' and vulgar'. 

'What the Australia coach did isn't funny or cute,' American author Laura Chapin tweeted. 

'It bigfoots a woman athlete winning a gold medal and centers the attention on him,' an tweeted.

'It's vulgar and frankly offensive and he should apologise to her and everyone else.'

Boxall refused to apologise for the celebration, saying his only regret was breaking Japan's strict Olympic Covid protocols by ripping off his mask.

'I lost it. I think I went outside my body. I just lost it. That's a moment of being with this girl for five years and having a dream together,' Boxall said.

'The Americans might not like it, I don't know. But I bleed with my athletes.'

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