The Olympic silver-medal winning swimmer will be back on screens today as she takes part in the celebrity edition of ITV’s Tipping Point Lucky Stars. The 58-year-old will be battling it out against punk rocker Toyah Wilcox and Reverend Richard Coles for the chance to pocket cash for a charity of her choice. Sharron became a household name due to her exploits in the pool, which also saw her claim two gold medals at the 1978 Commonwealth Games.
More recently, she has been incredibly outspoken on the topic of whether transgender women should be allowed to compete in female sport.
This week she criticised New Zealand for its decision to allow transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard to compete in this year’s Olympics in Tokyo, calling it “another kick in the teeth for female athletes”.
Before this, Sharron claimed in 2019 there “is a fundamental different between the binary sex you are born with and the gender you may identify as”, and argued that in order to “protect women’s sport” those who could have a “male sex advantage should not be able to compete” in female events.
Her comments have previously provoked anger from those within the transgender community, however other athletes such as Olympic track winner Sally Gunnell, gold medallist boxer Nicola Adams and gold middle distance athlete Dame Kelly Holmes have supported her claim.
But in another encounter, Sharron condemned wokeism that has allowed sport to get to such a place as she addressed a comment from one of her followers on Twitter.
She had shared an article regarding LBGTQ+ and LGB community rights in the US, and one follower argued that they “cannot understand anybody supporting a natural born man participating in a contact sport against women”.
They added: “And also being in spaces that should be safe for women and young girls. It just seems common sense.”
Sharron agreed, but tweeted that “wokeism is not renowned for its common sense”.
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”Every single woman athlete I’ve spoken to, and I have spoken to many, all of my friends in international sports, understand and feel the same way as me.
“Unfortunately, a lot of people who are in the races [now] are in a very difficult predicament when they can’t speak out.
“It maybe falls to the people who were competing [in the past] who would understand the predicament that is being faced at the moment to try to create a debate, and try to explain how we feel there needs to be a fair and level playing field.”
During her career, Sharron has also been keen to speak out on other topics and even took to the BBC Question Time stage to put forward her wish for London to host the 2012 Olympics.
More recently, however, she lashed out at New Zealand for preparing itself to select Hubbard, who will become the first transgender Olympian after “meeting modified qualifying requirements for the Games”.
Hubbard, 43, had previously competed in men’s weightlifting competition prior to transition eight years ago.
But Sharron said: “I am pro everyone doing sport but I feel sex, not self-identified gender, should be how we compete.
“I speak out because of personal experience of the East German doping programme when illegally-added male levels of testosterone cheated women out of success for years, unstopped by the International Olympic Committee or any other sporting bodies. It was a shameful period.
“We were as aware then as we are now that it was not fair, cheating hundreds of people out of their rightful medals and rewards. It can’t happen again to even one female.”
ITV’s Tipping Point Lucky Stars airs tonight from 6.30pm.