‘Greta Thunberg of sport’ won’t fly to Australia over environment concerns
British athlete Innes FitzGerald, dubbed the ‘Greta Thunberg of sport’, has refused to take part in a world championships event in Australia because of environmental concerns.
FitzGerald, 16, has said the 10,000-mile flight fills her with “deep concern”.
“The reality of the travel fills me with deep concern,” she said. “I would never be comfortable flying in the knowledge that people could be losing their livelihoods, homes and loved ones as a result.
“The least I can do is voice my solidarity with those suffering on the front line of climate breakdown.
“Coming to a decision has not been easy, however little compares to the grief I would feel taking the flight.”
FitzGerald burst onto the scene after she smashed the UK U-17 women’s 3000m record in Belfast but will not travel to the World Cross Country Championships in New South Wales.
When competing in an U-20 championships Turin last month – where she was beaten by three athletes three years older than her – she took an overnight coach to northern France before travelling by train.
The trip took more than 20 hours and FitzGerald admits it took its toll.
‘I can’t really justify it’
“Environmentally I didn’t want to fly. It’s just so damaging, I can’t really justify it,’ Fitzgerald said in Turin.
“My family is as environmentally minded as I am. We live in a passive house on a small holding growing fruit and vegetables. So my dad was happy for us not to fly.
“Aviation is the most energy intensive activity we can do and explodes a person’s carbon footprint. I don’t want that on my conscience.”
FitzGerald was good enough to represent Great Britain at the European U18 Championships in Jerusalem but she ruled this out on environmental grounds.
The World Cross Country Championships take place Down Under on 18 February of this year.