Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Olympics pole vault Yelna Isinbayeva

Russian pole-vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva does it again - 4.89m for Gold at the Athletics World Championships

UPDATE: This pains me to do but Isinbayeva went out of her way soon after this victory to make what I can only describe as homophobic comments.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion but when that opinion puts other people in danger (which it does in Russia) and when you're someone adored by thousands of people, don't you have a responsibility to think before you speak?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Equality in the show-jumping ring

Great letter in the Irish Daily Mail today  -couldn't have put it better really. There are a few other sports where men and women compete directly, but show-jumping is probably one of the more prominent. 

And the other equine sports of course - dressage, showing, racing and so on. Think of Irish jockey Katie Walsh finishing third in the Grand National at Aintree last year or American/Hong-Kong show-jumper Raena Leung becoming the first HK rider to make the FEI finals this year.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

On your bike ladies!

Cyclist and Olympic medallist Laura Trott had her 21st birthday party when she was 16 - to avoid a future clash with racing season. That's dedication. 

And meanwhile as Trott says above 'so many women are riding bikes now'. And in the UK at least they now have something great to aim for - the Women's Tour of Britain. Looks like the race will run next May and it aims to offer women the same prize-money as men. *Gasps* 

One of the stages is to be named after 22-year old Trott. Organiser Guy Elliott told the Guardian newspaper this week: "We will finish in town centres and pay the same prize money that Bradley Wiggins or Mark Cavendish would get. The goal is to wrap a social agenda for change in health and social terms around a sports event, to send a strong message to women that they don't have to be second best. 

"It's a game changer. It cannot carry on, that we discriminate against women in sport from the age of 15."

Hopefully the first of many such announcements.

Friday, August 9, 2013

What are your London2012 memories?

Hard to believe it's been a year since the London Olympics! In that year women's boxing has grown and grown in Ireland - all thanks to the Gold Medal brought home by Katie Taylor. 

I travelled over for her first fight, what an experience. How could anyone forget the feeling as the sound built and built - shattering sound records and dwarfing noise coming from larger stadiums. She fought local girl Natasha Jones - a great battler in her own right, and the combination of Irish and English voices almost lifted the roof.  The noise hit 113.7 decibels, close to the 140 of a jet-engine taking off.

Pretending to be an Olympian!
It was a great sensation - I posted here about the day.  And even in the days after her win, you could sense that things were changing. Suddenly commentators and newspapers were speaking with new-found authority on women's boxing. 

I spoke to Fionn Davenport on Newstalk about everyone's hopes for the future. And 12 months on, much of that hope is being fulfilled. It's not perfect but a great outing by the women's team at the European Championships recently certainly marked a huge change from the days when coaches had to fight to get even Taylor a place on the plane. 

And a noticeable change from previous Olympics, as I wrote here for The Irish Times. 

The buzz created by Danny Boyle's opening ceremony, the knowing every country had made an effort - no matter how paltry - to get at least one woman on the team, the success of women like Taylor. 

It all added up to something special, something meaningful we can take solace from for a long time to come. 

What moments stood out for you?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Jessica Ennis

(Thanks to Content on Demand for this very cool infographic to go with the photos, and apologies for being late!)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What's your take - twitter silence or inspiring women?

Sign at Dollymount Beach, Dublin

Twitter has been talking a lot about women this week - you may have heard of the #Twittersilence hashtag to take on trolls. One of the parallel hastags is  #inspiringwomen

I see both points of view. Someone is behaving like Stone Age Man so you leave the dialogue and that takes away the fuel from his madness. It can work - if SAM has no-one to shout at, he will probably move onto a more visible target. 

The other option of yelling pride from the roof-tops can also be effective - you show SAM nothing he says has any grounding in reality. And hope he gives up under the avalanche and goes away. 

Unfortunately a lot of the discussion between women has drifted from SAM and onto competing between ourselves as to which approach is better. *sighs* 

Since getting involved in sport in  my early-20s I've taken both approaches. There really are times when silence is the best reply, a dignified silence I think is the term.

Like when a trainer says don't get in that ring because you will contaminate it and make 'my  boys' lose their next fight. Is there any response other than walking away and finding a gym with more tolerant attitudes - so you can train and fight and win? 
(an example from my youth BTW but still found in unexpressed form today) 

But on other occasions loud noise is appropriate - like when officials try to change the length of a women's fight because they say we can't last  the full five rounds. Regulation and legislation SAMs need to be fought - loudly and often. 

I was a bit saddened though to notice how few sportswomen got tagged as #inspiringwomen. That would be my gripe with feminism I guess - science, arts, politics are all moving centre-stage for the movement but sports are still seen as something it's OK to leave to men by many women.

Not on this blog though - we celebrate Inspiring Sports Women all the time here. Any thoughts on which approach you prefer - silence or inspiration?


Friday, August 2, 2013

UEFA Women's EURO2013 champions on the field and in the press

Germany welcomes home the Women's Soccer team - UEFA EURO2013 Champions 

How great is that photograph? Just goes to show when women do well, we can get sport in the headlines. Over 5,000 people turned out in Frankfurt to welcome home the Women's EURO2013 champions. Good report on SpiegelOnline.

Women's soccer burst onto the stage when Japan and the USA battled through tense penalties at the World Cup Final in 2011. Matches during London2012 got great coverage, and full stadiums - looks like the sport is on a roll. Cynical me remembers American Brandi Chastain getting a lot of attention with Those Abs back in 1999  - hopefully this time the interest will go further.

This great video looks back at Germany's progress through the UEFA Women's EURO 2013  - ending with an exciting match against Norway this week. Final score of 1-0 doesn't quite capture the thrill of the game. If you missed it, the Guardian live-blogged it (of course, they live-blog everything!)

I'd advise starting the video about 30 - 40 seconds it, there is a loooong build-up.