Australian Olympic rugby gold medal winner Charlotte Caslick has taken aim at hockey legend Ric Charlesworth for his description of the Pearls' women's sevens victory in Rio de Janeiro as "soft".
Charlesworth, who coached Australia's women's hockey team to Olympic titles in 1996 and 2000, said he was "delighted" the Pearls had won the gold medal but he described rugby sevens as "a soft event at the moment".
"I don't think they had a try scored against them well into the competition, so some events are much easier than others,"
Australia defeated Colombia and Fiji by an aggregate 89-0 before wrapping up their pool matches with a 12-12 draw against the United States; they then defeated Spain 24-0 and Canada 17-5 to reach the final in which they defeated New Zealand 24-17 to claim the inaugural gold medal.
Caslick, who featured strongly in the four-tries-to-three final victory, scoring one try and having a hand in Ellia Green's second-half score, said Charlesworth's comments reflected the fact that "I guess he's never played sevens".
"I used to do track running when I was younger, and rugby sevens is like running a 400m - but on steroids," Caslick said on The Big Sports Breakfast.
"It is the hardest sport that I have ever tried.
"If you try running a 400 and getting tackled and getting back up off the ground, it's tough."
Charlesworth, who featured in five Olympic tournaments with Australia's men's team before coaching the Hockeyroos to success in the Atlanta and Sydney Games, said that Olympic hockey tournaments presented a bigger challenge over a longer period of time than rugby sevens.
"I think hockey is as hard as any of the team games you play," Charlesworth said. "Basketball is similar, where you have to play for two weeks, day after day. You can win five or six games and end up with nothing and that is tough.
"I played in a bunch of teams that were undefeated until the semi-finals - that can happen, it's a hard medal to win, you have to slog it out day after day."