‘Oh sorry!’ Naga Munchetty apologises after misgendering Team GB athlete Alex Bell

Naga Munchetty apologises after confusing GB athlete's gender

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Naga Munchetty, 46, has said sorry after she misgendered Team GB athlete Alex Bell, 28, while on her BBC Radio 5 Live show this morning. The BBC Breakfast host accidentally referred to Alex as a “he” before being corrected by Andrew Henderson, Head of Athletics and Endurance Coach at Leeds Beckett University.

Naga began by discussing the most bizarre false start in the Olympics triathlon so far, as Alex Yee summoned the performance of his fledgling career to win a silver medal.

About 20 athletes, including Yee, had dived into the water to begin the race after hearing the starting klaxon at 6.30am – just as an inflatable boat carrying photographers drifted across the start line and stopped the rest of the 56-strong field going in.

To make matters worse, Yee and the others ploughed on for another 150m until a speedboat carved through the waves and got them to stop.

There was barely any time to draw breath before the 23-year-old Londoner was back in the water doing it for real. 

Just over an hour or so later, after a 1500m swim, 40km bike ride and deep into the 10km run, he was leading.

For a few tantalising minutes, gold appeared in Yee’s grasp. But, after so much toil and torture in the 27C heat, he had nothing left when the Norwegian Kristian Blummenfelt surged clear with two kilometres remaining to win in 1hr 45min 4sec.

Naga said on her show: “Let me go back to Andy Henderson, Andy, I explained what happened when the false start happened with Alex Yee, but you were talking about how that would have impacted them in terms of the energy that’s expended, the psychological build-up just starting.”

Andy responded: “I don’t think it affected them too much, it was almost like it was part of their warm-up process.

“Especially the guys who got to jump in the water, but I think it would have more of an impact for those guys who didn’t manage to get in the water but by the looks of it and the way things panned out. 

“I think in the end it worked out OK for everyone.”

The BBC presenter went on to discuss Andy’s involvement with 800m athlete Alex.

She continued: “Now look you have not only been involved with Alex Yee, but also Alex Bell who is running the 800 metres, tell us about Alex, how you are feeling about his prospects?”

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Not missing a beat, Andy corrected the 46-year-old on her use of pronouns, as he replied: “It’s a her, she’s running the women’s 800.”

“Oh sorry,” Naga said sheepishly.

Bell competes for Pudsey & Bramley Athletics Club.

In 2018, she competed for the first time at the Great Edinburgh International Cross Country.

She reached the semi-final of the 800m 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha, setting a personal best time of 1:59.82.

The athlete finished fifth at the 2021 British Athletics Championships event, which doubled up as the Olympic trial event.

She was not initially selected for the delayed 2020 Summer Olympics, when the athletics squad was announced in June 2021.

However, Bell was later selected for the 800 metres event at the Games, replacing Laura Muir who had qualified for the event but later decided not to compete as she wanted to focus on the 1500 metres race.

On Twitter, Bell retweeted words from one of her followers, who said: “Stepping into the light. So pleased that @alexbell92 didn’t turn her back on our sport. 

“So many times being turned down – but the perseverance has paid off! @BritAthletics.”

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