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Women's sport IS interesting!

London 2012 is proving that women’s sport is just as interesting, thrilling, nail-biting and mood-lifting as the male equivalent, says Rebecca Bryant.

By Nic Hopkirk 07/08/2012 10:23

Victoria Pendleton, Jessica Ennis, Sophie Hosking and Katherine Copeland (images © Press Association

 

If ever there was a time to celebrate women in sport, it has to be now. London 2012 has surpassed our imagination in terms of jubilation for the nation and proved without a shadow of a doubt that women’s sport is just as interesting, thrilling, nail-biting and mood-lifting as the male equivalent.

 

From the poster girl Jessica Ennis’ triumphant gold medal in the heptathalon (on what is being dubbed Super Saturday) to the golden girls of British rowing, winning medal after medal, women have put on a mighty good show of athleticism at the Olympics and they have all earned a place in the nation's hearts.

 

You only have to look at the supporters. who stood in the rather intemperate weather during the women’s marathon on Sunday to cheer on Team GB’s Jo Pavey, Freya Murray and Mara Yamauchi pounding the pavements, to note our enthusiasm for every kind of sport, irrespective of gender. It seems that as long as the athlete is waving the flag for GB and donning that famous Stella McCartney uniform, the audience at home is right behind them.

 

London 2012 has turned a corner in terms of parity

 

Simply pick up a newspaper and you’ll find the pages are split at 50/50 reporting the achievements of our best sportsmen and sportswomen. And while there is still sexism around certain events - shame on you BBC Radio One presenter Chris Moyles, who recently commented on air that he was disappointed at the women beach volleyball players, calling them ‘flat-chested’ and ‘rough-looking’. Get over yourself, because London 2012 has turned a corner in terms of parity.

 

Not only is it the first time that women from Saudi Arabia have been allowed to participate in the games, meaning every country is now represented by sportswomen, London 2012 is a historical moment for women boxers too, since they have finally been permitted to fight for their chances to win a gold medal. The number of sports played (and consequently the chances to win medals) is now equal for men and women.

 

We have indeed treated our Team GB team with the same respect, irrelevant of their sex

 

We have indeed treated our Team GB team with the same respect, irrelevant of their sex. We watched both Bradley Wiggins and Victoria Pendleton take gold for cycling events and we crossed our fingers for Becky Adlington and Tom Daley. During the entire period of the games, the general public on the whole has not discriminated between the sexes and a rush for last-minute tickets to any available event is evidence of us Brits just wanting to be able to witness our great sportsmen and women taking to the stage.

 

This is welcome news to organisations such as the Women’s Sports and Fitness Foundation, who support, encourage, enable and celebrate active women and girls. 

Tim Woodhouse, Head of Policy and External Affairs said: “Before the games, we’d hoped that they would turn into the greatest games for women ever and, to be honest, they’ve delivered beyond our expectations”

 

it’s such a window of opportunity for women’s sport, which normally only gets 5% of media coverage

 

“The fact that so many women have been leading the gold rush at the beginning of last week has been fantastic and it’s such a window of opportunity for women’s sport, which normally only gets 5% of media coverage, to show we have some incredible sportswomen and takes the chance to hopefully inspire young women and girls across the country.”
 

Finally, young women up and down the country are being shown that you don’t have to take your clothes off to get noticed. And if an athlete does happen to show off their fine physique for an advertising campaign, then they’re remembered for being fit in more ways than one.

 

Once the fanfare has been silenced and the Olympic flame becomes a distant memory, will women’s sport fade into the background again, or have the broadcasters and media finally realised we don’t just want to watch male-dominated sports?

 

Woodhouse argues: “We’ve seen from the public reaction that when they get the chance to see the top events in women’s sport, the public lap it up. Our research shows that 61% of sport fans want to see more women’s sport, so to say the audience isn’t there or they (broadcasters) have to play the rating’s game and women’s sport doesn’t deliver, well that’s just not true. Hopefully these Olympics have proved that again.”

 

These Olympics will inspire a generation and give the major broadcasters and media a much-needed push to start supporting, covering and shouting at the top of their social media voices about our great women in sport.

 

For more info about the Women’s Sports and Fitness Foundation, visit www.wsff.org.uk. You can also follow them @wsff_uk and why not join their #GoGirl campaign?

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