They’ve nicknamed her “the Iron Lady,” and on Saturday night, Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu proved them right – she shattered the world record in the women’s 400 meter individual medley (set in London by Ye Shiwen of China during the 2012 games) with 2 seconds to spare.
But before she had even climbed out of the water, something the NBC commentator Dan Hicks said sparked outrage on social media. The camera panned to Shane Tusup, Hosszu’s coach and husband, and Hicks made this comment:
“There’s the man responsible for turning his wife into an entirely new swimmer…”
Hicks was likely referencing the fact that, after failing to medal in London in 2012, Hosszu asked Tusup to coach her – and within months, she reemerged on the international scene a very different swimmer.
But the internet went crazy anyway:
Woman obliterates world record at Olympics; NBC shows her coach/husband, saying he's responsible for it.
Maybe she is?
— Derek Willis (@derekwillis) August 7, 2016
Katinka Hosszu breaks world record for women's medley, #nbcolympics announcer credits husband as "the man responsible." Outrageous sexism.
— Deanna Zammit (@DeannaZammit) August 7, 2016
— Laura Helmuth (@laurahelmuth) August 7, 2016
And Hosszu’s husband quickly gained his own following once people saw how he responded when his wife hit the water:
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 6, 2016
The women in particular thought it was great:
— Katie Aune (@katieaune) August 6, 2016
If you don't act like Katinka Hosszu's husband when I accomplish something, don't bother hitting me up lol
— H (@halurrssss) August 7, 2016
But some say that there may be a dark side to Tusup’s intensity:
Everyone seemed to enjoy watching the women's 2free except this guy. Calm down man. pic.twitter.com/MyS9x5a9Gt
— Josh Prenot (@JoshPrenot) December 13, 2015
Olympic medalist Jessica Hardy trained with Hosszu in California, and she claimed that, at times, the line between “contentious coach/swimmer relationship” and marriage relationship were blurred:
“I’ve seen a lot of inappropriate and not-okay behavior in Shane. I’ve seen coaches exhibit that kind of behavior in training, but this is another level. It’s scary.”
But Tusup says that the choice will always belong to Hosszu: “I always say if you find a coach who can make you a step or two better, or if what we’re doing is not working and you think there’s something you need to change, you need to tell me because then I’ll step back.”