Monday, January 31, 2011

Sports Blog Karma

Mary Kom, Indian boxer
 A monthly round-up of great sports blogs: 
This English blog is a great place to find out about technology for running and keeping fit. I can be pretty old-skool in my approach so it's great to find out what's out there, and how it can help. 
I discovered this American blog by accident, basketball not being a sport I know much about. But they have a great LINKS section with links to women blogging about all sorts of sports. This includes online magazines, blogs with training tips as well as sports like surfing, running and rugby or soccer. ISW is now listed there too, thanks! 
This Australian blog isn't just about women, but the anonymous blogger - who works in sports marketing -  does give some interesting insights into the reality of life off-the-arena. Some thought-provoking posts on women's sport and where it's going.
The website for this UK magazine runs most of the articles from old issues - interviews, profiles, training tips, nutrition tips and work-outs. It's doesn't seem to be aimed at professional athletes but the women featured in the articles train just as hard!

This UK site isn't just for women, but again features great articles on the politics of sport, helping to explain why things happen they way they do.
You can find more Sports Blog Karma here.



Friday, January 28, 2011

Anne-Flore Marxer

Swiss/French snowboarder Anne-Flore Marxer won out at the Nissan Freeride World Tour this week. This was Anne-Flore's first time at the event, and a wild-card at that. It's one way to make a lasting impression.

She was quoted on the Powder Room as saying: "“The last three days have been very stressful and I’ve been really tense. But when I got to the top of the course I realized that is what I usually do! I regained my confidence and rode without hesitation. I’m especially glad that tomorrow is my birthday - I’ll have two reasons to celebrate tonight!”  You can read more about Anne-Flore in this post here.

As the snow threatens to swamp Ireland again, I wonder if we will ever get enough to do things like this here?


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Irish runner Fionnuala Britton

Fionnula Britton (right) Belgium 2010
Cross-country running often calls up images of mud, shivering legs and rain-soaked heads. And that's just in the summer. Irishwoman Fionnula Britton was named Sports Woman of the Month for an impressive month of international racing in December.

Within a week she came second at an IAAF Cross Cup race in Belgium, and 4th in a sprint finish at the European CC Championships. The irony is that she beat people in the lesser race to come second who had earlier beaten her into fourth.

She said in an interview at the time: "“I suppose it’s a bit sweet to get some measure of revenge but it still does not make up for last Sunday. I do feel a little better now and it’s a good end to the year for me."
Only 26 in a sport where athletes often get better as they age, she ran the 6,000m in 20.37 for the Belgium race, just behind Kenyan Caroline Ken Chepkwony at 20.35.

Who would you nominate for sportswoman of the month? 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Powerscourt

Diana, taken in Powerscourt gardens Ireland 

Wordless Wednesday is a group of bloggers who give words a break once a week.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sky Sports right to fire sexist presenters?

A well-known male presenter on Sky Sports UK was fired today for comments he  made about a female soccer referee. He questioned her ability to ref the game solely based on her gender ... on air! Well, accidentally "live" but still.

Yes, fired, gone, out the door. Andy Gray is a former player and beloved by soccer fans. I was talking about this with my soccer-mad flatmate yesterday and she thought he was too high-profile to be fired but she was hoping. Me? I was being cynical. But it really seems that things are changing.  Richard Keys was suspended with him.  Sky Sports released this statement: "Richard Keys and Andy Gray have been stood down from duty for tonight’s televised match between Bolton and Chelsea, Sky Sports have confirmed in a statement. The Presenters have been removed from ’Monday Night Football’ after making comments off-air about Premier League official Sian Massey. Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports, said: “It has been made clear to each of them that their comments were totally unacceptable.”

So what do we think - is it right to fire someone for this kind of comment? Should they be "re-educated"  - is it possible to re-design old white sportsmen for the new era of women and blokes from other countries?

Professional Surfing a male dominated sport?

This is a guest-post from (hopefully the first of many!) Mpora covers Skate, Surf, Snow, Mountain Biking, Motocross or BMX, sourcing videos, photos and blogs to bring the best together. This post was written for ISW by the Surf Editor, Rebecca Clark, introducing three inspiring women surfers.

Professional Surfing a male dominated sport? They wish. With strong-willed, inspirational and accomplished women like Alana Blanchard, Bethany Hamilton and Erica Hosseini at its forefront, it's only a matter of time before women's pro surfing gets the equal coverage it deserves.

Bethany Hamilton is first up, a girl who even after suffering a shark attack in October 2003 surfing off the north shore of Kauai, which left her left arm severed, got back in the water and was competing again by January 2004. That just screams commitment ... or insanity, but I'll side with commitment.

Bethany Hamilton in Somewhere: Gadis-Gadis Latut

Her achievements include Best Comeback Athlete award in 2004 courtesy of ESPN ESPY and 1st place at the Explorer Women's Division, her first national title at the 2005 NSSA Championships.Outside competing, she's involved in huge amounts of charity work and is spokeswoman for Beating the Odds Foundation and World Vision International. Her autobiography "Soul Surfer" was made into a feature film in 2008 and she wrote a book for teens, "Devotions for the Soul Surfer"

Alana Blanchard can tackle intimidating of waves with the bravery and fierceness of a shark and master it with the grace of a dolphin. Well that's certainly impressive, and very believable.

Alana Blanchard

Well and truly leaving her stamp on pro women's surfing, she dominated competitions from the age of 15. She won first place in the 2005 Women's Pipeline Championships, the HASA State Championships and the Rip Curl Grom Search Nationals, results which lead to her being given the 2005 Triple Crown Rookie of the Year award.
Blanchard is regularly featured in sporting mags due to her intense dedication. Even non-sports mags like Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair want a piece of her, making her a key recognisable face for the sport. Well that and the surfing videos of her modelling the skimpiest of surf attire.

Finally, I bring Erica Hosseini to the table, the daughter of a former ski instructor who learnt to ski at 2-years old, and was water skiing and mountain biking by age 4. At 13, she began competing in the NSSA, but failed to rank.
The following year however, she embarked on a winning streak entering her first pro event and placing second. This broke a world record due to her being the youngest surfer to make it to the final of an ASP event. She then went on to win the Southwest Open Conference, Explorer Conference, Regionals, NSSA National Open Women's Title, and The Governor's Cup, taking her to 5 NSSA titles for that year. Not bad eh? Erica has since auditioned for the part of Willow in X-Men.

If you'd like to see anyone else from the Mpora site covered here, just leave a comment and let me know! 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Irish surfer Easkey Britton

Easkey Britton website
With a name like 'Easkey' Ireland's top female surfer was always bound for the sea. It means fish in Irish and is shared with one of the largest waves off the west coast.
So growing up in the west of Ireland with a surf-mad family, it didn't take her long to get in the water.

Big wave surfer
Not content with claiming the Irish national title four times plus the British Universities title, she also takes on the big waves. Not just bigger than average but really big - up to six metres.  
She was the first Irish person to surf Teahupoo in Tahiti and the first woman on the infamous Aileens wave in Ireland.

And off the water, surfing is a huge influence on her art - beautiful paintings of women, fish and waves. You can see examples here on her page The Artist Inside, they're really beautiful.
This love of nature takes her far beyond surfing and art. Working on her Phd in marine science means she gets to think about maintaining the water as well as being on it. Her blog has links to environmental articles she's written recently.

And, not to forget, she was one of my Sweat and the City girls here. Inspired yet? Read more on her blog Easkey's Blog

Easkey Britton Tahiti

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Are women competitive?

Standing in a group of people, I noticed that for once ( this being media-land) there were more women than men. One of the guys joked this is because men only outnumber women in positions of power. Thanks for that.

It made me think again about how we compete. Scroll around this blog and you will see plenty of competitiveness, winners and women who want to fulfill their potential. It's the same in politics and business so why do we lose out in the final numbers game?

lhourahane flickr
Somewhere along the line, we seem to develop a feeling that winning isn't all that. It's just not something good girls are supposed to do. If you think I'm being simplistic, read this great article from Dawn Redd titled "Women Warriors, What is the secret to making women competitive?"
She argues that we don't like to stand out alone, so working in teams is more productive and it's vital for competitive women to be in a competitive environment. She says where a man (to generalise) may do just as well being the sole achiever in a team of wasters that a woman would sink to the level in order to fit in. She works on creating a team ethic of success which encourages individuals to succeed. It's the kind of thinking that makes the hackles rise at first, then you stop and go - woah.

Many of the women on this blog, and women I've interviewed for other outlets speak about their sporting accomplishments in terms of  individual success but always refer to the great team they have supporting them, how everyone works together and really it's a team-game behind all the glitz. Maybe that is what we need to do to rationalise success - make like it's not all our own work anyhow?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Nikki Kelly Kayaker

Nikki Kelly pic
Kiwi kayaker Nikki Kelly has been on the water since she was 16 years old - chasing a hot instructor who never knew the effect he had on her.

In the last few years, she was named greatest kayaker of the 20th century by LVM, competed and won many races at the Teva Mountain Games and Ford George Games (Extreme Champion 2002) while taking part in rodeo kayaking, creeking, expedition kayaking and a little surf-kayaking. Plus more than a little raft-racing. In an interview with River Angels, she described her training routine as: "Kayak, kayak, and more kayak. Off season is gym, yoga, waka ama, mountain bike, every day as often as possible and when body allows - variety is the spice of life."

Kelly herself names the 7 Rivers expedition in California - 50 days of non-stop paddling - as the highlight of her career ... so far. 

What's the longest sports event you've taken part in?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Boxing after 2700 years

Two months to go before the tickets for the London Olympics 2012 go on sale. No prizes for guessing that the boxing is high on my list of things to see, it is very exciting that women are finally being allow to compete.

Anyone watching the amateur world championships last September for the first time would have been shocked at the standard - higher and higher with each fight. The days when women fighting was a freak-show are long-gone with most trainers now happy to take on women fighters in their gyms. It's still a macho world but at least the doors are open now. One Dublin trainer I talked to a few weeks back just grinned when I asked him how he feels about the women training in his gym: "If you want to fight in a man's game, you have to fight like a man," he said as he threw the female fighters into sparring with the boys. Nice.

The video is from the successful "Let Them Box" campaign run to end 2,700 years of waiting to compete in the Olympics. You'll meet many of these women over the next few months here.

Blog Post 101

This is post 101 on Inspiring Sports Women. Not bad, not bad at all.

Thank you for continuing to read and comment on the posts. Remember if there is anyone you would like to see featured, just leave a comment or email me with your suggestions.

I've had some exciting guest-post offers so the next few months could be fun around here.

The photo? Well, we can't be healthy all of the time and sticky toffee pudding is a great way to unwind! 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Judy Dater

Judy Dater photographer


Wordless Wednesday is a group of bloggers who give words a break once a week.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dear and Yonder surf film

Dear and Yonder
The soundtrack on this trailer for  surf-film 'Dear and Yonder' is 'Been so long' from Vetiver - and if you're reading this in Europe, it's probably feeling very long since the summer was here.

Plus tomorrow January 19th is apparently the most depressing day of the year. Great! But just 'cause it's too cold to swim, doesn't mean you can't dream. This film will definitely bring a smile to your face with Steph Gilmore (Australia), Sofia Mulanovich (Peru) and Kassia Meador (USA) surfing at home and in their favourite travel-spots.

Where do you think about when you can't get out to do your favourite things?


Monday, January 17, 2011

Anne-Flore Marxer Snowboarder

AFM by matt george

Switzerland used to be the staid land of European mythology, all cow-bells and Heidi-girls. But, leaving aside the questionable ethics of their never-tell-all banking system, Swiss snowboarders are carving out a whole new image for the country.

Anne-Flore Marxer was the snowboarder with the most coverage in 2010, yup more than all the boys too. And there's a reason for that, not only is she one of the top boarders in the continent, she's a fierce advocate for women in the sport - one of the driving forces behind equality in prize-money for men and women - and apparently one of the most fun people to have out on the slopes in your gang.

I love the intro on her blog:  "I'm euro, provocative and passionate. I live through love, spontaneity and happiness.I' m a heart core snowboarder. I smile and I bite, I crash and try harder. I ll give it all to be better,go bigger and laugh more. I support global happiness.. I ll do my  thing no matter what people think. P.S. please don’t call me Anne. Thanks"

Note the 'euro' as she's actually French/Swiss. From Rookie of the Year in 2006 to Rider of the Year in 2010, that's an inspiring journey by anyone's count. Plus she's said in interviews that hot chocolate is one of her favourite things about the snow, a woman after my own heart. Her favourite tricks on the other hand, I could never emulate: Backside rodeo 720 and Backsides 180.

AFM pic vanessa andrieux

Anne-Flore tackled sexism in prize money, what would you change in your sport? 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Emma Byrne Soccer Player

Emma Byrne pic credit Nike UK
I interviewed soccer player Emma Byrne a few weeks back, and entered the story into a writing competition.

Before you pop over there and read the story which won the Brendan McKenna Memorial Award, you should know that Byrne is Irish hence my interest. But from a sports point of view, in eleven seasons with Arsenal in England she’s been named Players’ Player of the Year twice while clocking up 347 appearances. The team is considered the best in the UK league as their shelves hold 12 Premier League titles, ten National League Cups, plus ten FA Cups. And the UEFA Cup in 2007. Inspiring to say the least.

The story is a little bit longer than my usual blog posts, but if you have some downtime ( it is Friday), pop over to the Soccer Writers' Association site to read the interview with Emma Byrne.  

Happy weekend!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Women Talk Sports

Excited to say that Inspiring Sports Women is now officially part of the Women Talk Sports Network!

If you haven't come across this site before, it's great. They draw in people from all around the world - male and female - who blog about women in sport. And with so many different people part of the site, they really do cover everything from A to B. You've got game reviews, skills tips, product reviews, player profiles, politics, a radio show and heaps of great bloggers.

Pop over there to Women Talk Sports if you need some information you can't find here. 

Aimee Mullins Sprinter

Browsing through the TED-archives (procrastinating?) I came across this video of American sprinter Aimee Mullins.

If you haven't heard of her, think paralympian, sprinter, holder of the Foreign Affairs Internship at Georgetown University, model, actress, co-founder of Helping Others Perform with Excellence (HOPE) and double amputee - pure inspiration. It's been a few years - 1996 Paralympics but it's good to remember. This video is of an interview she gave in '98 talking about why running is so important for her and how she finds motivation.

There is a more recent video here on the TED blog. As we're on the last few days before the IPC World Championships, I'm sure you'll be hearing more about women like Mullins and April Holmes.

Can you think of any other athletes from the 90s who we should remember?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Anita Bean Nutritionist

Don't worry, this blog is not turning into one of those 'you're so fat' places. Nutritionist and author Anita Bean is one of my favourite people even though we have never met. Reading her nutrition books will answer any questions you could possibly have about eating right for great sport.

No nonsense about blood-types or cabbage soup or only eating while standing upside-down wearing purple. Just common sense and a scientific breakdown of what food really is and how it helps us stay alive and healthy. Both  "The Complete Guide to Sports Nutrition"  and "Sports Nutrition for Women" have recipes, the relationship between energy burned and taken in plus factual information on the dreaded female athletic triad and other scary things.

Bean has written 24 books but they are the two I love. The most useful pages are the easy-to-read tables on vitamin and mineral breakdowns for a long list of foods.
Have you read any of her other books? Or do you swear by someone else to fuel you up every day?

Monday, January 10, 2011

April Holmes Paralympian

April Holmes
Sport can be incredibly superficial and selfish. To succeed you have to be selfish and focus completely on yourself. Or do you?

American sprinter April Holmes isn't your typical runner. Holding world records in 100m, 200m and 400m, she does it all on one leg. A train accident nine years ago in Philadelphia left her facing a stark choice, optimism and a new life or despair.
In an interview with Today she said:
"I realized just in a blink of an eye, I could have lost my life.

God kept me alive for a reason. I realized I had work to do. I couldn’t just sit there and be stagnant."  Inspired by her surgeon, she took up running.

So far, so inspiring story. But Holmes has taken things one step further and spends much of her time travelling to schools talking to children and showing them just how far you can go. She says the highlight of the talks is when she takes off her prosthetic leg and shows it to the children - surprise, surprise the boys love it. Her foundation - the April Holmes Foundation - works to inspire and fund people with disabilites to overcome obstacles.

April Holmes

You can watch Holmes and other paralympians in action at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Games in New Zealand, starting on Saturday January 15th. 

Do you know of anyone who has a similar positive attitude to life?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Open Water Swimming Women

Anne Marie Ward pic Sports News Ireland
Irish woman Anne Marie Ward was named as the World Open Water Swimmer of the Year. 

Ward swam for 18 hours and 59 minutes to cross the Northern Channel between Ireland and Scotland in her second attempt at the crossing.  As someone who never even goes for a quick dip in Ireland without freezing, can we just say impressive. More details here on Sports News Ireland.

The awards are to "honor the woman who (1) best embodies the spirit of open water swimming, (2) possesses the sense of adventure, tenacity and perseverance that open water swimmers are known for, and (3) has most positively influenced the world of open water swimming in 2010."

I've posted about another nominee American swimmer Diana Nyad before here and here. You can read about the other ten nominees here on Open Water Source - maybe you'll find some inspiration to get in the water ...or not, so cold!

What's your long distance swimming record? Or shortest!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: jumping for joy

Re Wikstrom sports action photographer

Happy New Year everyone!

Wordless Wednesday is a group of photo enthusiasts who give words a break once a week.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Katarzyna Radzka Runner Cook

Warsaw XXII Independence Day Run

A Runner’s Life is a blog about running, eating and having fun. Polish runner Katarzyna Radzka says she appreciates the smaller things in life and hopes her dreams will become her reality. She talks here about running in sub-zero temperatures and preparing for a winter of running in the snow.

Polish runner Katarzyna Radzka says -5C (23 F) is the coldest weather you’ll see her out running in. And with all the snow piling up over Europe and America in the last few weeks, she’s had plenty of chances to test that resolve.

But in spite of living in Warsaw, the biggest city in Poland she still loves to get out in the nearest park and run. Katarzyna says “I love running in the forest. I’m lucky to live near the Mazowiecki National Park and also have some woods on either side of my street which makes the forest very accessible for me. I love being surrounded by nature, hearing the birds chirping, breathing in the fresh air instead of car fumes, and the stillness of everything.”

She says that winter just involves making some adjustments to her routine, but she’s determined to keep going, saying she loves: “The euphoric feeling afterwards. There are days when I don’t feel like putting on the running shoes, but when I do I never regret it – however, when I don’t, I kick myself over it for hours.”

So I asked her for some advice for those of us new to running in sub-zero temperatures.

“Stay hydrated and dress in layers when you’re going for a run. I wouldn’t recommend running when it’s colder than -5 although I’ve heard people run even when it’s -10 or more. If you haven’t run in the snow or below zero temperature than start slow, twenty minutes is enough. If you want a longer run simply split it into two and do 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the afternoon. And most importantly be careful – it can get slippery. Keep the endurance runs and interval training for the treadmill if the temperature is too low.
Otherwise enjoy, I’ve found running in the snow very relaxing recently.”

Dressing in the right gear is key to having fun when there is an inch or two (or more!) of white powder on the paths. Katarzyna says: “This is one of my problems. My partner was kind enough to give me a pair of winter running pants for Christmas which I must say are wonderful to run and keep me warm.”

And she adds, “I tend to dress in multiple layers – sports bra, shirt, jacket and jumper - which I must say sucks but it’s a necessity here. I haven’t bothered to change shoes for the winter as the ones I have are working out fine for the time being.”

Katarzyna spent many years living on the Gold Coast of Australia, where running involves beaches and lazy sunsets, a big change from a Polish winter. She uses races to keep her motivation high saying that competition is the thing. She swam competitively as a child, and that urge just doesn’t seem to leave us.

Mexican Soup from Katarzyna
You’ll find some great running food ideas on her blog A Runner's Life as well as training tips.
It’s sports' best kept secret – the more you run the more you can eat and eat and eat.  Pre-race food varies from person to person, she says: “My usual breakfast before a fun run consists of a bowl of unprocessed oats, banana, mixed nuts, flaxseed oil and milk. I find that this gives me enough energy for a long run, I tried having scrambled eggs once, which is what I always have at the weekend, but it didn’t work out too well.”

Although you might be surprised at some of the food Polish race organizers hand out. Katarzyna says: “Once after a race the organizers gave us pea soup, and lard on bread with pickles. Lard is very popular here in Poland especially when it’s consumed after a shot of moonshine (bimber) or vodka – though I wouldn’t recommend eating it after a run unless you’re used to that sort of food.”

Do you have any questions for Katarzyna, post them here!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Women's MMA Awards 2010

MMA is not a sport mentioned too often on this blog, but I have huge respect for the fighters. Being a stand-up person myself, the idea of wrestling on the ground is quite intimidating.

You can read the categories for the Women's MMA Awards 2010 here on Women Talk Sports and vote for certain people straight from there. Megumi Yamaguci from Japan is getting my top votes and a few for newcomer Julia Budd from Canada.

Do you watch MMA - how do you rate it?


Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Years Resolutions 2011

Dublin train-lines under snow

You just have to do it really, it doesn't feel right to come to the end of the year and not make hugely unrealistic plans for the New Year.

As regular readers will know, this blog started life when I was sick and hadn't worked for months. It has somehow survived returning not just to work but to college and slowly returning to health. It's become a 'happy place' to go when politics and the real world are just too much to take. And in spite of learning over the last 18 months that the best laid schemes of mice and men go oft awry, here we are again making more plans.

So in 2011, and bearing in mind your sports interest in coming to this blog, I'm hoping for:
  • Keeping back injuries at bay with clinical pilates 
  • Working on the base I've built-up to start running again 
  • Keeping respiratory illnesses at bay and getting back in the water 
  • Doing a multi-day walk in Ireland 
  • Climbing a mountain - any mountain but no roads allowed 
Wishing everyone who reads this health, happiness, honesty and love for the New Year. What about you, what do you hope for in 2011?