Birmingham canalside assault leaves athlete 'in shock'

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image captionSarah McDonald says the assault has been a 'wake-up call' about runners' safety

An athlete who competes for Great Britain says she has been left in a "state of shock" after being assaulted at a canalside while training for the Olympics.

Middle-distance runner Sarah McDonald had her backside grabbed by a man on a moped while warming up in Birmingham.

The 27-year-old said she had received an "overwhelming response" to sharing the experience on social media.

She added she would be reporting the matter to police.

Ms McDonald, who has represented her country at World and European Championships level, was out with a training partner when the assault occurred on Wednesday.

She said in preparation for the 1,500m at the Tokyo Olympics, she had been using a quiet stretch of canal to train "most days" during lockdowns.

"I think it's quite common to have things shouted at you and catcalls, but I didn't think twice about those," she told the BBC.

But things took a turn shortly after her training partner shouted to "watch out for a bike".

Ms McDonald said: "I stepped to the left. I wasn't even looking, but the [moped] slowed down and the man on the back grabbed my bum before zooming off into the distance."

She added: "If I'd gone to the right-hand-side, I hate to think - they might have pushed me into the canal."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Ms McDonald's tweet highlighting the incident prompted other women to share stories of harassment and assault while out running.

"I normally don't speak out about these things, but on this occasion I had to make an exception and have been overwhelmed by the response," she said.

A number of Welsh female sprinters have recently reported being verbally abused by strangers as they trained in public rather than at athletics tracks during Covid restrictions.

[Until the incident] I'd have felt comfortable being on my own," said Ms McDonald who added: "This has been a wake-up call - be vigilant and look after each other."

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