Friday, December 30, 2011

Inspiring Sports Women in pics 2011

And the end of the year is almost here. Thanks to the mysteries of download counter, these are the photos and the women you loved the most this year. And yes, Wonder Woman was one of them - this pic held the top position for months, was beginning to get a bit worried!

As always, if you are downloading pics from here, please link back to the photographer's site if it's not mine or at least to here where people can follow back to the original sites.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

What you loved on this blog 2011

They say a week is a long time in politics so a year ... So much happened in 2011 that events from January or February seem to have happened in another decade not just a few months back. And scrolling through the stats for this blog to see what you liked reading isn't any different.
Diana Nyad

The most popular posts were the attempts by American swimmer Diana Nyad to swim between Florida and Cuba last summer and again this year. Like many of you I was disappointed for her but also impressed that she even thought of attempting the 103 mile swim at 62 years of age. That's complete with sharks and jelly-fish. 

Following close behind numbers-wise were the stories of Australian surfer Steph Gilmore and Kyrgyzstan MuayThai fighter Valentina Shevchenko.  

You also loved the personal stories from American cyclist Deborah Atkinson, and fighter Melissa Ray's retirement interview. Australian fighter Caley Reece just keeps popping up in the stats and lots of you were inspired to get climbing by Alaskan mountain-lover Ti Conkle.

Irish women you enjoyed reading about included soccer- goalie Emma Byrne, Down Under Aussie rules player Sandra Ryan and listening to MuayThai fighter Siobhan Foley prepare for competition. 
Martial arts and boxing pages definitely strike a cord which maybe says something about where I promote the blog, but it seems you're happy to take inspiration from anyone as long as she's doing something she loves - that's where the real passion lies. 

These great photos from the World Freestyle Kayak Championships by Emily Wall were a huge hit - pun intended - as were the photos from Siobhan in France

As the seasons turned, the snow queens have been sneaking up the list again. I haven't interviewed them (yet) but profiles of Swiss-French champ Anne-Flora Marxer and American veteran Tara Dakides are your favourites. 

Getting fewer hits but making you stick around were women like Egyptian rower Heba Ahmed, the story of the Palestinian soccer team and this short film on soccer in Brazil.

Have I missed any of your favourite posts? Leave a comment, share why you loved it.

Tomorrow: your favourite photographs (thank you download counter)

Torah Bright, Australia


Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Hard to believe it's holiday time again but in spite of the warm weather in Ireland it is indeed Christmas. Inspiring Sports Women will be taking a break for the rest of the year. 

I have some great interviews from snowsports to equestrian to all kinds of boxing lined up for 2012. And of course a review of the sportswomen and sporting events we loved in 2011. 

The journalist in me says do the review now but the sister welcoming home her expat family says turn off the computer! So I'll leave you with a link here to photos from the Irish Sportswoman of the Year awards and
one of the great photographs which Swiss-French snowboarder Anna-Flore Marxer sent ISW yesterday.

Merry Christmas to you and yours everyone!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Irish people loving their sport

Katie Taylor pic courtesy Lucozade

So life just got a little complicated for advocates of women's sport in Ireland. A new survey found that a lot more men than women love sport. Oops.

They found that almost one-third of people living here "love and follow sport on daily basis". All good until I got to the next bit - "substantially higher for men at 47.9 per cent versus only 11.9 per cent for women". Not quite what I was expecting.

No women found a place in the Iconic moments but that's not such a surprise really - not quite there yet. 

And another reminder that team sports are The Thing here, as managing director of the company put it: "Our research clearly underlines the enormous popularity of rugby, Gaelic Games and soccer as they dominate the hearts and minds of the Irish public amongst both males and females and across all age groups."

But there was lots of good news too - in the hunt for the 'greatest current sports star', boxer Katie Taylor came in third just after rugby star Brian O Driscoll and golfing genius Rory McIlroy. That's really great when you think of the high profile both those men have. Taylor headed up the list of female sports stars, keeping good company with jockey Nina Carbery, swimmer Grainne Murphy, hurdler Derval O' Rourke and high jumper Dee Ryan. 

And looking to 2012, the Olympics were in the top three events to get excited about. Good news for women's sports 'cause they'll get so much more coverage in the next few months. It's already happening, you've probably noticed it as well in your area? 

This research was conducted by research agency AskChili, on behalf of Pembroke Communications sports and sponsorship division, amongst a nationally representative sample of 502 respondents with quotas imposed on gender, age, region and social class. Fieldwork was conducted online between the 12th and 15th December 2011. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Dublin Horse Show

Where phone-boxes go to retire ...

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

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Time to get the snowgear out

It's coming up to reflection and look-back-at-the-year time. Let's start today with a post on snowboarder Tara Dakides - who holds seven medals in her Winter X Games collection and was also the first snowboarder profiled on this blog 12 months ago.

Dakides didn't compete in this month's games but still loves everything about her sport. In an interview with Kidzworld (yeah, surprise title there) she said: " It's amazing how far girls have come in snowboarding. There is still a large gap between girls and guys but it's closing every year. It's just amazing to see girls out there cause they love boarding - instead of being out there looking cute and getting into snowboarding because of their boyfriends. 

They're out there because they love it, they're ripping it and really taking it to the next level. I think in the next couple of years you're going to see the gap close even more. There's a lot of young girls coming into the picture and it's just going to keep getting better."

And if you need a motto to stick on your fridge-door for 2012, try this out this definition of a confident woman: "Somebody that's not afraid to be themselves and be the individual that they are. Someone that can tumble and not be afraid to make a complete idiot of themselves - just someone who's not afraid to be themself."

Not to mention that posting about Dakides is the perfect excuse to browse (that means working) her Flickr stream of stunning snow pics. Lots of cute shots of her with her dogs (dog?) but you have to have snow on Christmas week.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Cheerleading and pole-dancing?

I posted a while back about cheerleading and how it fits into what we call sport. This video from Reuters really tackles that question head-on. It's up today 'cause a boxing promoter recently inflicted some pole-dancing on us as part of the 'entertainment' at his show here in Dublin. We were talking about that last night so when I saw this cheerleading-behind-the-scenes footage, just had to share. They're not exactly the same of course as we talked about in the first post, but there is a certain element of voyeurism, of the male gaze that just makes me uncomfortable.

Let me know what you think!  


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sports clothing websites with great names

It might be all about location for housing but when it comes to sportswear sites, that name just has to stick in your mind. These are some of my favourites - though I should point out I haven't shopped in any of these so don't take this as a recommendation. Just a bit of fun on a chilly Thursday when it's time to think about stocking up on warmer running gear.

There's just something perfect about it. I used to hang out with a woman in Bangkok who referred to herself as Bangkok Betty so everytime I hear the name of this UK clothing company it makes me smile. Don't think I've ever actually used their products but the name alone makes me want to send some money their way.

I kid you not - this one is an Australian company making snowboards for women. Well, for the "empowered and beautiful female snowboarder." I'm wondering what their sponsorship logo is - do you tear down the mountain with BITCH emblazoned on the board? Or do you go for a more subtle BB?

Yes, not quite sure if I'm missing something obvious here because of a lost-in-transatlantic issue - does ChicaBomb scream women's surfboards to you? But it did make me stop scrolling so ... and I liked the idea of the Mermaid Board on their site. Cute. 

Do you know any others? 


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Cork MuayThai

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

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What good news do you have?

It almost feels redundant to post today as so many Irish and British newspapers have suddenly been overcome with the need to fill pages with women sports-stars. It's great she says,*sighs in a my-work-here-is-done- manner* but because we still need even more coverage I'll just keep going. 

The big news in Ireland is that Fionnula Britton returned home last night with a European Cross Country gold medal - almost one year after posting about her 4th place position. Interviewed last night at the airport, she said her sister shouting out "you want it more than the others" (or words to that effect) got her over the line.  

And there was: 
Olympics Ireland

Great weekend for Irish women; Annalise Murphy & Chloe Magee qualify, Fionnuala Briton wins Euro X Country and Melanie Nocher bronze @ euros
13 hours ago

That would be sailing for the first two and swimming for Melanie. Plus a rumour has been doing the rounds that boxer Katie Taylor could carry the Olympic Torch when it detours on its way to London next year. Finally, if you're on Twitter, there's a brilliant new hashtag #womeninsport which you can use to follow positive stories from the print and broadcast media. 

Not a bad blast of positivity to finish off the year. Can you add some more from your part of the world?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The final hours before a fight

Irish MuayThai fighter Siobhan Foley talked to me about fighting Scotswoman Sophie Gallagher on Sunday evening - what it takes to get ready and why she can't eat chips.

More details on the show available on Sitjaipetch MuayThai and Martial Arts Centre 

Siobhan Foley MuayThai Cork December 11 2011 by niamhg

Friday, December 9, 2011

Girls kick it

This is another short from charity Women Win - this one was made in Uganda with a group of inspiring young women using soccer to help rebuild their confidence after traumas suffered during the civil war.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Girls in the ring

Always happy to talk about boxing shows with women fighters on the card. And this weekend an event in Cork showcases two up and coming fighters, nicely displayed on the poster too. 

I interviewed both Denise O' Connell and Siobhan (Shiv) Foley when they fought in March. And hopefully will get to talk to them again this weekend. You can find their interviews here - Denise - and here - Siobhan  - to find out how they got started in fighting. You might be surprised!

Full details of the show on the Sitjaipetch website.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Adventure Links in Ireland

Antrim Northern Ireland
There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes. That’s what my kayak-mad sister says whenever anyone mentions the water this time of year in Ireland is just a little chilly. Just a little you know.

And the people behind new Irish website AdventureLink would definitely agree with her. Stephen says the site’s aim is to open up the outdoors to people who don’t know where to start. It’s a pretty simple idea for a website, but seems to be working well.

And it saves on the hours we all seem to spend now trawling the internet looking for deals where before we would have just taken the first thing. “One of the key features is the easy access to all adventure links and tourism from every corner in Ireland, with the adventurer in mind. There are 44 areas of adventure activity, nine extra areas and we have sub-divided the country into seven regions,” says Stephen.

They have about 800 links up already – including this blog which is how I found them, thank you trackback – and cover pretty much anything you might like to try out. Plus he says their “long-term mission” is to encourage sustainable tourism. They’ve got links up to Leave No Trace and Rothar (um, that’s bicycle in Irish) as well as a few others.

So anyone feeling lazy, no more excuses! All details at Adventure Links


Monday, December 5, 2011

Beat the budget blues with sport

This post is more for Irish readers but all are welcome of course! Two other sports-blogs here are hosting a broadcast celebrating Irish successes in 2011 ... Emmet from Action81 assured me that women like boxer Katie Taylor and the soccer team Peamount United would get a mention, saying:

Tired of the megatonne of misery dropped on the unsuspecting public every Monday evening, and knowing this week's budget will make things a whole lot worse,  Emmet Ryan ( and Lee Daly ( will focus on what's been good in the world of sports over the past year.

The live audio show is aimed squarely at giving people a reason to feel better for once. Now it's time to cheer people up by talking about highlights of the year from the Cricket World Cup to the Heineken Cup, with a dash of boxing and chess in between. Oh and there was also some success in football, we might talk about that.

The broadcast starts at 21.35 Irish time and can be found at this link:  Action81 

(apologies for not hosting it directly here but with the issues this blog has been having lately ...)


Nicola a woman who cycles

women cycle blog nicola
Nicola Women Who Cycle blogger
Nicola from Sydney, Australia is behind the blog 'Women who Cycle'. A public relations consultant, she says she loves biking and racing for the exercise, socialising and a boost of self-confidence. We had an e- chat to find out more.

Reading Nicola’s blog at first I thought she was a pro cyclist – it’s packed with info on races, female pro-cyclists and tips on how to get going. But scrolling down, it became clear she’s just in love. She says it’s “a fantastic form of exercise” and credits feeling younger than 40-something to the buzz she gets from long-distance biking.

“Cycling changed my life”
Nicola says: “It’s been wonderful for my social life. I’ve lived in the same Sydney suburb for 20 years and it’s only since I took up cycling in the past three years that I’ve met like-minded local people. I’ve lost count of how many friends I’ve made through cycling. 
Many of them I see socially away from cycling and we even talk about things other than just riding our bikes."

But it goes much further than that for her. Nicola goes on to say that cycling has meant facing down fears about her physical ability and of course that leads to mental changes. “This has increased my self-confidence which has filtered down into all aspects of my life. I constantly surprise myself with cycling. I feel like I go over one big mountain and then actively look for the next challenge. A pro cyclist I interviewed a few months ago said she believes cycling is a metaphor for life and I certainly agree with her. My own personal mantra is the cycling has changed my life.”

Race Time
Far from being a life-long hobby, Nicola only started biking three years ago. Like a lot of us, she cycled as a child and teenager but then stopped when she got her first car. But now she heads out for over 100km a week.

“I started only riding once per week and then within a year I’d changed that to twice a week. Probably another six months after that I started riding during the week when I was specifically training for a long ride – 210 km and I just kept it up once the ride was over. But I also like to maintain some balance so I jog twice or three times a week (three to four kilometres) and I do a weekly personal training session. That way I also exercise other muscles and help maintain my overall fitness,” she says.

Yes, that’s races of over 200km, you read that right. So although she’s being pretty casual about it all, when you break down her weekly stats, you get some serious road-time.
Nicola on Sea Cliff Bridge
Nicola explains her “typical training week consists of four early morning rides usually Saturday (about 40 km), Sunday (about 60 km), Tuesday (25 km) and Thursday (25 km). I’ve increased it a bit at the moment because I’m training for a 160 km ride in six weeks time.”

Feed me Seymour
And how does she fuel that? Takes a bit more than lettuce to through those kinds of distances she admits. “I’ve made very little change to my diet except to increase carbs a bit when I’m training harder. My body just needs the extra fuel. I spent my 20s and 30s on the yoyo diet treadmill and since I’ve started exercising more I have been able to stabilise my weight. In fact I’ve stayed the same weight for about three years but thanks to cycling my shape has changed and I’m carrying less fat and more muscle around my hips and thighs.”

Should you join her?
“I would encourage any women to take up cycling. It’s easier than you think and there’re so many options available. In Australia it is becoming more and more popular so it’s easy to find other people who are doing the same thing.

I challenge any women to at least give it a go. Borrow a bike to begin with and take it from there. The sky’s the limit.”

If you have any questions for Nicola, leave a comment!


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Moving time

Suitcases in France pic Malias on Flickr
Starting this week with an apology for the erratic postings last week. Serious levels of "technical issues" with Blogger - couldn't get into the posting section one day, couldn't get into the whole blog another and then unable to upload video successfully it seems. I could see Friday's video in the draft but not live - only realised that afterwards. 

So, time to think about moving the blog to a new home. 

I've used Wordpress for other blogs so that is the option at the moment. Not quite sure what the problem is, could be the number of videos? Could be ... well I don't really know but when the page takes longer to download than to write that's not good!*

I will give you plenty of warning and post lots of links when it's all ready to go. And open to advice and moving tips ... 

*slight exaggeration for effect there 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Snow is fallin'

It's chilly, there's snow in the air. Lots of people leaving Ireland in the next few weeks for the snow season in France and Italy - people with sense or mad? Who knows. Have a great weekend!
Updated at the weekend - see above post on technical traumas.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

That BBC Sports Personality list

The BBC has named its shortlist for Sports Personality of the Year. But oops, looks like they really meant Sportsman of the Year. The ten finalists, whittled down from a list which did include some women, were chosen by 27 sports editors from national and regional newspapers.

It's not that I begrudge any of the men on the list their moment of glory. But in a country the size of the UK and as successful in sport as they are, was it not possible to find one woman worthy of this title? 

Some of the women on the long list include world champion swimmer in 10km open water Kerri-Anne Payne; triathlete Chrissie Wellington World Champion for the 4th time this year; sprinter and Paralympian Stefanie Reid with 2 bronze medals from the IPC championships; World Taekwando champ Sarah Steveneson, cyclist Victoria Pendleton with 2 golds from the European championships, gold medal rower Kath Grainger, European champion boxer Nicola Adams and world champion swimmer Rebecca Adlington who has now spoken out to say well, let's just get on it next year. 

But why wait? If these women are good enough to perform successfully on the world stage, then why not be recognised at home? You can find articles about all of these women in the British newspapers who have now snubbed them. 

Ah, but not quite all - the nominating editors includes eds from Zoo and Nuts who both sent in all-male lists - no big surprise there if you've ever read 'em - but so did The People, The Independent (very surprised at this one), Metro, Irish News, the Evening Standard, the Daily Post, the Western Mail, and the Daily Star Sunday. That's ten of the 27 papers.

The Beeb announced yesterday they would review the process for 2012 in a watery statement that made no concessions to anything: ""It is too early to say what, if any changes will be made to the process..." Gee, thanks. 

If it's this hard for women to get recognition in sport, what chance at work or in the home? 

You can see the full list and shortlist here on the BBC Sports site.