Why were there nude female models at the 'I Support Women in Sport' Awards?

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Candice Chung

Models attens the Women's Health 'I Support Women In Sport' Awards at The Establishment on October 13, 2014 in Sydney, ...

Models attens the Women's Health 'I Support Women In Sport' Awards at The Establishment on October 13, 2014 in Sydney, Australia.

When you think of 'women in sport', the first thing that comes to mind is probably how under-paid, under-exposed and underrated they are in proportion to their talent -- especially at an elite level. 

So in an effort to finally give female atheletes the media attention they deserve, Women's Health magazine held a much welcomed 'I Support Women in Sport' awards night on Monday. 

Sounds like a good idea, right?  Except for one thing. Rather than focusing on the sportswomen (which the awards aimed to celebrate), all eyes were on four naked models on the red carpet. 

The models, wearing just underwear and body paint, appeared in sports uniform designs on the same red carpet as the real athletes. 

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They posed as a swimmer, netballer and gymnast, while a fourth wore a design resembling Cathy Freeman's running suit from the Sydney Olympics 400m final. 

Danielle Warby, a board director of the Australian Womensport and Recreation Association, called the models' inclusion "bizarre".

"The sexualisation of women in sport is a massive issue," Ms Warby said.

"These women are not athletes, they are naked and I don't know why they are there."

Unsurprisingly, Women's Health magazine drew criticism on Twitter for including the topless women in the event.

At the awards ceremony, editor Felicity Harley said: "This night is all about giving recognition and telling the stories of Australian sportswomen, who don't get enough coverage for their efforts and talents." 

Harley was unavailable to explain why the models had been hired and responded to Fairfax Media's calls with a written statement. 

"It is disappointing that this has become the focus rather than the phenomenal sporting talents of our Australian female athletes," she wrote. 

Indeed, it was disappointing. But surprising? Hardly. 

As for the accolades themselves, gold medallist hurdler Sally Pearson was named Sportswoman of the Year for defending her gold medal title at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Diamonds captain Laura Geitz won the Leadership Legend award, swimmer Emma McKeon was named the One to Watch and world champion canoeist Jessica Fox became this year's Outstanding Woman in Sport. 

The Moment of the Year award went to the world record-breaking swim in the Commonwealth Games by the women's 4x100 metre relay team while the Diamonds were named A-Team of the Year. 

If there is one thing to learn from the bizarre #nakedgate, it is that we need to have faith in our female athletes. At least enough faith to know that the public would genuinely want to hear about the incredible achievements of the elite sportswomen of our country -- without the distraction of naked female bodies. 

- With Patrick Begley, The Age