Posted by Sam Fenny - Memes and headline comments by David Icke Posted on 15 December 2023

‘I was quite sick about the situation’: Fury as biological male wins women’s croquet world title

On the surface, this year’s Women’s Golf Croquet Championship on the Sussex coast seemed the least likely setting for a scandal. As befitting the game’s image as the most genteel of English summer activities, Dame Mary Berry – herself a keen player – was guest of honour at the opening ceremony, where she received a cake decorated as a croquet lawn. And yet behind the scenes, a fierce row was simmering over the fact that the most prestigious female prize in the sport was won by a biological male.

It is the first known case anywhere of a women’s global title being awarded to somebody born male. Australia’s Jamie Gumbrell, who was competing as a male as recently as 2019, is recognised by the World Croquet Federation (WCF) as having been “assigned male at birth”. But when the sport returned from its pandemic-enforced shutdown, the 23-year-old from Canberra began identifying as female and in August became the women’s world champion at the first attempt.
Telegraph Sport has spoken to several of Gumbrell’s fellow competitors, all of whom are furious about the unquestioning gender policy that enabled the Australian to self-identify into the female category and beat England’s Rachel Gee, the 2011 champion, in this year’s final. Sue Lightbody, a member of the England team at the worlds, said women had no idea they would be playing against a biological male until they arrived at the tournament in Southwick, near Brighton.

“There was a huge amount of disquiet,” Lightbody said. “But nobody was prepared to say or do anything. I was quite sick about the situation. We thought it would go against us, that we wouldn’t be picked for another team. Everything was hush-hush, everyone was worried about being called transphobic. People told me not to get involved, saying, ‘Don’t do anything, you’ll make yourself very unpopular’. But this just shouldn’t happen. It fundamentally isn’t fair.”

Croquet’s gender policy is essentially one of pure self-ID, allowing players to compete according to the “gender identity that they persistently and consistently use”. Ian Burridge, president of the WCF, said: “The fact that Jamie was assigned male at birth is not disputed by anyone. Jamie now identifies as female as her entry into the world championships was determined in accordance with our policy, approved by our members in April 2022. We welcome feedback, given the concerns that exist around speaking out in this area.”

Leading female players argue that Gumbrell, having gone through male puberty, carries immutable physiological advantages in golf croquet. Unlike association croquet, the sport incorporates elements of strength and stamina. “A key shot in golf croquet is the jump shot,” Lightbody explained. “If you’re on the boundary, you can jump over a couple of balls and get through a hoop. I can only do mid-jumps, I can’t do one from the baseline. But Jamie can. That is a huge advantage over a woman.”

Another female international involved at the worlds, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “It’s not just jump shots. To hit a ball that weighs 500 grams 20 metres, I have to use 80 per cent of my strength. The more strength you use, the more precision you lose. Endurance is also a factor. But in a sense, the ‘why’ is not so important. The world rankings, where only 12 of the top 100 players are women, prove that there is a difference.

“We never thought we would have this problem. I really felt sorry in the final for Rachel, who at the end was hiding behind her sunglasses because she was crying. She didn’t complain. She had been training so hard to be the women’s world champion, and then someone born male comes and takes it away.”

Gumbrell is recorded as having taken part in numerous croquet competitions in Australia as a male, receiving an award in 2019 from the Victorian association for a video promoting the sport to a younger demographic. “Jamie is an up-and-coming croquet player – he has just come third in the prestigious President’s Eights,” the citation read. “He will be competing in the Under-21 and World Open Golf Croquet Championships in England.”

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