Saturday, December 21, 2013

Irish Sportswoman of the Year

Former international racing driver Rosemary Smith who was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award and The Irish Times/Irish Sports Council ‘Sportswoman of the Year for 2013’ Fiona Coghlan at the Shelbourne Hotel. Photograph: Alan Betson  PIC Irish Times (link below) 
Fiona Coghlan, captain of the Irish rugby team has been named Irish Sports Council/ Irish Times SportsWoman of the Year.

It was great to see so many fantastic athletes listed for this title - she was picked from 12 monthly winners during the year, any of whom would have deserved the win! 

So why did she win? The Irish team took the Grand Slam title in February when they won the Six Nations tournament without losing a single match. 

This is a huge achievement in itself but when you think how hard women's rugby has had to struggle for recognition and support, it's a stand-out! I've been at a few of the Irish team's home-games and let's just say sometimes the crowed support wouldn't exactly fill the stands. Hopefully this will change now they've shown everyone what they can achieve. 

The whole team is in the running tonight for the Team of the Year awards from RTE, and manager Philip Doyle is up for manager of the year. 

But Sportswoman of the Year is a separate contest - done between the Irish Sports Council and The Irish Times. There is something very special about having these women recognised on their own. Johnny Watterson has a lovely interview with Coghlan here on the Irish Times website. 

But I loved, just loved this comment from the paper's Sports Editor at the end of that article: 

"Over the ten years of these awards, I have been struck by one particular thing, how unassuming the winners have been, whether Olympic champions or just monthly winners,” said Irish Times Sports Editor Malachy Logan. “They don’t carry the surly baggage of their male counterparts and what a refreshing change that is."

And so say all of us! 


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Study says passion more effective than expensive facilities to get people playing sport

Cork Camogie U-16s All-Ireland Champions PIC: Cork Camogie
School students who play sports tend to better Leaving Certificate results than kids who don't - one of the more positive findings from a new study of the Irish and sport. 

Sadly, this is also one of the few positives. They did find that 'almost all' primary schoolchildren play some kind of sport which is great. But then ...the Drop-off. 

Essentially what you have is a curve of loads of kids playing sport, then hitting college or work and getting distracted by those things and alcohol and everything else the world has to offer. Of course when you get older you look back and wish like hell you'd done more sport when your knees didn't ache but too late then! 

The study - Keeping Them in the Game: Taking Up and Dropping Out of Sport and Exercise in Ireland - also found having fancy facilities doesn't help. It's all about interest and passion. 

(Ahem, this is sounding very similar to the TEDx speech I missed out on giving two weeks ago, really great to see I'm not a nutcase!) 

So, what else did they find? Girls drop out of sport during secondary school at a higher rate than boys - baffling. I've read so many reasons for this, everything from study to coaches who don't encourage them. It's very sad.

And this finding gets 'Duh! of the Year' - "School exams have a strong negative impact: students participate less in exam years and this has a lasting effect on whether they are active in later years."

Others reflect the irritating reality that work, family and other commitments do get in the way of being healthy. I'm guilty of this myself sometimes on a busy week - you can genuinely forget to exercise. So bad for you, but so hard to keep it going in times of madness.

And most worrying finding was the "widening socio-economic gap" as people from deprived backgrounds are less likely to have the chance to take up new sports as adults. 

Finally I was very happy to see the report's author Dr. Pete Lunn, ESRI saying this (in the press release): 

“The findings imply a need to change the way we think about promoting sport and exercise. We are good at getting children involved – it's keeping people involved as they get older that is the problem. The evidence suggests we could focus more on the major transitions in people's lives and try to make it easier for them to continue to be active.”

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Red Bulletin covers women in sport ... again

An actual athlete!
I haven't chucked 'The Red Bulletin' straight into the bin two months in a row, is this a record?

Cover story is skier Lindsay Vonn and inside you've got football goalie Emma Byrne - two pages - and sprinter Jodie Williams - five pages. 

Great photos of all three women and really solid articles. What's happening to this bastion of male sport? *tongue in cheek btw for anyone reading this early in the morning* 

If you're in Ireland, you can find the mag tucked inside today's Irish Times. And if not, some articles are online at Red Bulletin Magazine Ireland.

It's great to see Emma Byrne still getting attention, the most successful Irish female player, and even named Players' Player of the Year for both men and women in Arsenal where she keeps goal.

And while in one sense it shouldn't take a female journalist to highlight women in sport, I can't help feeling this Editor/writer below - Ruth Morgan -has a lot to do with the changes. 

There has been the odd article on women here and there, but these last two issues really ramped it up. 

Why am I giving this mag so much brain-space? 

Simples - it's one of the few more mainstream mags covering the sports I love and they have mostly ignored women like me and you.

That's a complaint I could spill over into most print media to be fair but as RB positions itself as the alternative sports leader, you expect them to offer a genuine alternative. 

What are your thoughts?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Photos from my undelivered TEDxCorkWomen speech

Last week I told you with great excitement I would give a speech at the TEDxCorkWomen event. But I didn't make it - there was a car-crash on the motorway but thankfully everyone survived. I'm feeling very lucky today, as are the other people involved I'm sure.

I do feel bad for everyone who generously donated great images of women in sport for my talk. So I've put the slides together in a video for you.

It's too big to upload directly to Blogger but if you follow the link here - Niamh Griffin on Animoto - it's all there. 

The wonderful speeches given on the night will be uploaded very soon to the TEDxCorkWomen website. 


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Women in the RTE Sports Awards 2013

Annalise Murphy PIC from RTE Awards
That's Irish Olympian Annalise Murphy there, the sole woman nominated for Person of the Year in the RTE Sports Awards 2013. She scooped Gold and the Laser Radial European Champion title in September at home in Dublin.

But this year it's in the team competition where women really get recognised. The Irish rugby team who won the Six Nations and Grand Slam 2013, the Cork Ladies Football team (All-Ireland champions eight times in nine years), and the Galway camogie team ( All-Ireland champions this year after a long drought) are all nominated. 

Also nominated is the Paralympic Swimming team which includes Olympians Bethany Firth and Ellen Keane. The team took home 8 medals from the recent World Championships - 3 silvers for Firth and two bronze for Keane among them.

The success of three of those teams have earned their (male) managers a place in the Manager of the Year category. Philip Doyle for the rugby, Tony Ward for the camogie and Eamonn Ryan for the football. 

If you're in Ireland, Team of the Year is a public vote - would be great to see one of the women's teams winning! Yes, that's a hint - get dialling on December 21st. Details here.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Women in Sport blogs and websites

Time again for a round-up of some great blogs and websites promoting women in sport:
PIC: Re Wikstrom - from her Tumblr. (Click photo to go there)

Getting ready for the Winter Olympics in February next year? This snowboarding mag will keep you updated on who to watch for and what it's all about. Great video went up recently on British snowboarder Aimee Fuller (who Ireland are sort of claiming as she spent time in Northern Ireland as a child) 

Irish Olympian Michelle Carey was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease in 2011 - having already been running for years! Her blog has recipes and other info based on her own experiences.

This site hasn't been updated since last year but the links still work. It's packed with info on resources, DVDs and equipment for pretty much any outdoors sport you care to try. 

And if you're looking for a cause to get behind before the next Summer Olympics - Canadian Pam Boteler and her fellow women canoeists are still fighting to get into the Games. (Slalom)

You have to smile when you read the 'About' on this American blog - "When I started Brave Ski Mom in the late summer of July 2010, my goal was to occupy my mind, and fill my days. My youngest was headed to middle school and was done with me showing up at school to volunteer. I was staring into the void. Without young children at home what would I do? So I turned to something I love more than anything except my family: skiing."

Monday, November 25, 2013

Speaking at TEDx CorkWomen

I'm quite excited to tell you I'm speaking at a TEDx event on December 6th in my hometown of Cork. And the topic is ...*drum-roll* ... 'add sport into your life and stop saying no' with a segue into failed anti-obesity policies. 

I'll be speaking about MuayThai of course, and my own journey from 'what, sport? are you kidding me?' to 'yes, sport, gimme more!'

It was a huge thrill to be asked - and readers of this blog should all take a bow! Having talked about women and sports here for over three years now, I have a lot to say - inspired by you as much as I hope you've been inspired by the brilliant women profiled here. 

It feel strange to speak about my own journey for a change, definitely feels more natural to 'talk up' other women. Looking forward to hearing what people think about my wonderful sport. 

The full speaker line-up is here on the TEDxCork Women website. Women from the worlds of science, technology and business so far lined up - tickets are still available too here.

December 1999 WMC Intercontinental Champion - this pic hangs on the wall of the Bangkok gym I learned in - trainer Jitti on the extreme right.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Girls in the Red Bulletin

I have often mentioned on this blog how disappointed I am with 'Red Bulletin''s coverage of female athletes so am eating humble pie today. 

Fabulous cover on this month's mag with British snowboarder Aimee Fuller hanging in all her glory. 

Some great quotes - 'Girl's boarding is going through the roof. We're pushing each other and the sport,' she told Ruth Morgan. 

And inside a piece on Chesca Miles, a British motorbike stuntrider. This is a new sport to me, but very intriguing. 

She said to Ruth Morgan (who is maybe behind this sudden surge in interest in women's sports): 

'Of course I have bad days, but generally I'm prepared for breaks and bruises. Guys telling me I'm not good enough just makes me work harder.' 

So if you're in Ireland - pick up The Irish Times today, the mag comes free inside. 

Or you can read some of the stories on the Red Bulletin Ireland website here.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: track, cycling championships

These photos are from Zimbo Sports - taken at the UCI Track and Cycling Champs earlier this month. 

(For some reason Blogger is not allowing a link to each individual photo as I usually do - follow the link above to find out more about these shots)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Swedish group "The Knife" on women, gyms and music

A music-video which shows a girl fully-clothed leading a group of male dancers through a gym? Yes, you need to see this. It's the latest tune from Swedish group 'The Knife" - if you haven't had the pleasure of a live gig, this video is a great taster.

The video for 'A Tooth for an Eye' won Best Scandinavian Music Video at awards in Norway this month. And it's become a cult favourite abroad, especially among those of us who prefer female singers and dancers fully clothed. This latest post on DummyMag gives a list of ten videos hitting that crazy criteria.

I saw The Knife when they played an Irish festival 'Electric Picnic' in September - a mind-blowing experience. Translated Lyrics on The Knife website  


Friday, November 15, 2013

Did women lose out after the London Olympics?

Olympics women Christine Ohuruogu Britain gold
Christine Ohuruogu PIC Mike Hewitt via The Mirror

Some young girls don't take up sport because they think a celebrity lifestyle is easier - just one of the issues discussed in England this week at the Culture, Media and Sport Committee. 

Sitting with the weight of the British parliament behind it, the committee members heard from athletes and advocates. And people who want to understand why the fabulous London Olympics and Paralympics haven't brought thousands of women into sport. 

Tuesday saw the first session in what will be a lengthy inquiry. Their remit? Oh, simply to solve the problem of women's disengagement with sport. You can read more on the homepage - maybe they will find out why.

At the weekend the Independent on Sunday looked at the Women's Sports Fitness Foundation's arguments on boards. (sorry to be only sharing it today, very slack of me) The WSFF want sports bodies to have 30% female board membership if they're state-funded. Emily Dugan wrote: 

"Six sports boards do not have any female representation at all – among these are British Cycling, British Wrestling, and England Squash & Racketball.

Former Paralympic athlete Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson said: "We're in the 21st century and we need to move on a bit and stop finding reasons not to change.

"The numbers are just too low. A lot of governing bodies are trying hard, but we need to push them to get better."

Though the Government has given NGBs until 2017 to make sure at least a quarter of their board members are women, it has not yet succeeded in dramatic change. Of 57 boards surveyed, just 33 met the minimum expectation.

Not all sports are lagging behind, however. Nine now have female CEOs, and 16 NGBs already have more than 30 per cent female board members."

And on Tuesday the BBC reported world 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu's views on celebrity. Speaking on BBC Radio 5, she said: 

"The best thing we can do is show them the benefits of doing sport - whether at elite level or recreational level where you are just trying to keep fit and stay healthy.

That's what is troubling, that more needs to be done to work out why these girls are not accessing sport at a recreational level.

We wonder how come the Olympic Games, the biggest competition in the world, came to London and it's not gained much traction. [It is] because there are bigger and better images that are grabbing these young people's attention."

... So what do you think? I'm preparing a talk on this very topic at the moment so it's all flying around in my head.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Winners for Nine for IX

Very short post just to say there are two winners of the ESPN Nine for IX Dvds: Catherine Fishback and Laura Canning.

I'll be in touch with the winners later this week, need to check with ESPN today about delivery from their side.

Hope the rest of you enjoyed the trailers at least -let's just say you were all doing so much sport you couldn't enter ....or you meant to but didn't make it, never mind - there will be more comps coming up.  

Normal blog-posts resuming tomorrow with some great Wordless Wednesday shots.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Last chance to win Nine for IX from ESPN

Today's your last chance to win the inspiring films 'Nine for IX' from this blog. Lots of you have commented and liked the idea on social media sites - so all you have to do is send in 100 words or less on why you should win before midnight tonight GMT!

Leave a comment here or email:  niamhgriffinonline <at> 

I love that the films were directed by women as well as being focused on some stellar sports-stars. Executive Producer is Jane Rosenthal who founded the Tribecca Film Festival along with Robin Roberts who American readers will know from Good Morning America. 

I've been watching the trailers, and wishing I could enter myself! 

If this is your first visit to the blog this week, check out Monday and Wednesdays' posts for more details! 

And here's a taster - the whole series distilled into one quick shot: 


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Title lX

Nine For IX
American tennis player Venus Williams tackles equal pay

Katarina Witt East German figure skater

Pat Summit American basketball coach
The 99ers - American soccer team winning the World Cup
Today's photos remind you of the chance to win Nine for IX dvds as posted here on Monday ...

More Wordless Wednesday bloggers here.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Win DVDs from ESPN on Women in Sport - Nine for IX

Give-away time!!

Watch this inspiring trailer – and then read how you can win the four-disc collection!

The four-disc collection ‘Nine for IX’ celebrates the 40th anniversary of Title IX with nine inspiring docos on women in sport. They highlight basketball coach supreme Pat Summitt, tennis player Venus Williams fight for equal pay and the 1999 US Women's World Cup team, Olympic runner Mary Decker, free diver Tanya Streeter, sports journalist Robin Herman among others.  

There were signs that said no women allowed ... You're gonna be soft or you're gonna be tough ...She was the original mermaid ... Half of the human race is shut out of this profession for no good reason ... This can't go on, someone has to speak up ... Is she smart? We don't talk about that stuff but is she hot, Oh Ok ... 

What’s Title IX?  

In 1972 someone realised that women were never going to just become equal to men unless something was done at a State level. This one clause in the Educational Amendment changed the face of school and college sport in America forever: "No person in the U.S. shall, on the basis of sex be excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal aid." Since then girls’ participation in sport has shot up, giving us – directly or indirectly - the adult women we see today in the Olympics and other tournaments.  


Tell me in 100 words or less why these documentaries would inspire you. You don’t have to be a professional sportswoman but tell me why you’d love to have these women on your shelves. 

Leave a comment here OR email me niamhgriffinonline AT before Saturday November 9th 

What will I get? 

Released by ESPN this month, the four-disc collection includes all nine titles from the Nine for IX series, plus two bonus films:

I'll be posting clips and photos sent to me by ESPN during the week to encourage you!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

'No Apologies' football film still winning awards

Keeping with the Aussie theme for today, the football doco No Apologies picked up two awards at the Southhampton International Film Festival. 

You might remember a few posts on here about No Apologies - a doco following two Australian Aboriginal girls to the 2011 FIFA World Cup. 

They won for Best Editing and Best Documentary - to their shock as their latest blog-post shows! "Having won one award we definitely did not expect to receive the accolade of Best Documentary and were stunned when once again “No Apologies” name was read out. Ashley tried to convince Quie-ying to accept the award but she pushed him forward again. It is rare that you will find him lost for words, but he was close to it on this occasion," the team wrote up. 

You can still buy the DVD here, and this is a short taster from the original crowdfunder promo.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

(Almost Wordless this week!) 

Watch carefully for one of the best goals you're likely to see this year - Stephanie Roche from Ireland's Peamount United slots it home against Wexford Youth in the Women's National League.

The goal went viral soon after manager Eileen Gleeson uploaded this short clip at the weekend. You can read Roche's reaction to her fame here on


Monday, October 14, 2013

Should governments spend more on sport?

BMX Ireland
Katie O' Neill on her BMX PIC Stephen Kane
It's Budget Day in Ireland tomorrow - a good time to look at how little of our hefty tax-bill supports public sports - a stark contrast to the bulging health budget. Prevention rather than cure is definitely not the slogan of the day.

Website 'Public Policy ie' allows tax-payers to see where their tax goes. As a sports-fan it was very disheartening to see the tiny % going to Sports and Recreation Payments. 
  • A salary of €20,000 means €2,218.80 in tax with €2.64 going to sports
  • A salary of €40,000 means €9,930 in tax with €11.82 going to sports 
  • A salary of €60,00 means €20,330 in tax with €24.19 going to sports
  • A salary of €80,000 means €30,770 in tax with €36.57 going to sports
  • A salary of €100,000 means €41,130 in tax with €48.95 going to sports

Compare this to the thousands taken from those salaries to service our mammoth National Debt.(or maybe don't if you value your blood pressure) But it's also thousands/per person less than the money being poured into our health system.

Obviously speaking from a biased perspective here, but surely more investment in sports ultimately results in decreased demand on some health services?

I only moved back to Ireland a few years ago, and am still baffled at the huge growth in costly private gyms vs the low investment in public facilities.

There's a lot of talk about an obesity epidemic, taxing sugar, taxing salt and so on - but what about a bit of preventative medicine? 

This report prepared in 2010 found: 'there is a very significant net overall return on government investment in sport in Ireland'. It lists health benefits from reducing the risk of heart attacks to helping treat depression. And a myriad of other physical or mental benefits in-between. 

The authors also look at the economic impact of a fit population vs not-so-fit - including the scary statistic that almost one in five Irish people exercises for less than 20 minutes each week.

Although to be fair, this line made me laugh: 'Similarly, extremely high levels of participation in sport can cause health problems as well'  Ahem, guilty as charged! 

It's a not a clear link between more sport and health of course, but there is surely enough evidence to pull more spending into this area.

What do you think? 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Because I am a Girl .... Sierra Leone

This is just one of the stunning photographs taken for the charity Plan Ireland as part of their celebration of the UN Intentional Day of the Girl.

Animata is standing in Masiaka, Koya, central Sierra Leone in West Africa. She and a number of other Sierra Leonan girls had their photographs taken for this series, and then matched with photos of Irish girls of a similar age. 

If you're Dublin, they are on display at the Powerscourt Townhouse until October 21st. If you're not, all of the photos are on the Plan Ireland Facebook page here. Details from the launch here on

I've just come back from a work-trip to Sierra Leone, and yes it is that beautiful. And yes, it is that much in need of more aid and less local corruption so girls like Animata have a chance.

PIC: Plan Ireland's Her Story project in Sierra Leone and Ireland


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Surfing to success at TEDx Dublin with Easkey Britton

Irish surfer Easkey Britton gave an impassioned talk at the TEDx Dublin a few days ago, been reading it on Twitter and delighted it's online now.

Her love for surfing has taken her to the giant waves of Tahiti but also to teach the freedom of sport to girls in Iran. In the talk she says our fear of failure can dampen creativity but by taking chances in the waves we can learn how to let go.

"We learn by doing, we learn by failing. Surfing teaches us to keep calm ... we have to learn to relax," she said.

It's Wednesday, hump day for lots of people but this will give you some motivation as you face into the rest of the week.


Monday, October 7, 2013

MuayThai Angels, the debate goes on ...

A few more thoughts on World MuayThai Angels ... 

Sylive von Duuglas Ittu, who you may remember from this interview on my blog, watched the fights from her gym in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand. 

She blogged about it here on 8LimbsUs and raises some good points around advertising. Traditionally in Thailand, and elsewhere, advertising during sports events targets a male audience. She noted just two 'female' products, but that's two more than I ever remember seeing over there during televised boxing - even when it was an all-women's bout. 

Well worth reading Von Duuglas Ittu's blog if you have any interest in women and combat sports. She's doing MuayThai but many points regarding relating to your trainers, reaction to your changing skills and hopes for the future - all relevant to any combatants. 


Thursday, October 3, 2013

MuayThai Angels - a step forwards or backwards?

World MuayThai Angels - a televised series of Thai Boxing fights which began this week in Bangkok, Thailand - caused quite the controversy when it was first announced but seems to be winning people over. 

It's a variation on the reality TV show-theme with women fighting it out for a prize. This wasn't terribly well explained in the beginning, leaving many fighters miffed they'd been left out of a new tournament.  

All of the women pictured above are fighters, with varying numbers of fights behind them. There were some rumblings about their looks, and a sense they were chosen for looks over fight ability. And, you know, there may be an element of truth in this as it is a TV show first and tournament second. 

Sue Latta, head of the IFMA Female MuayThai Commission had this to say about it all: 

"What most people forget is that this is a TV show not an International Championship regarding titles or world championships. It is a prize purse not a World Title that is achievable for the successful contestant. What is achieved is an increase in awareness and popularity in our sport. 

"The public will get to see what hard work and determination goes into a fight: psychologically, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This opportunity to showcase our skills and talents is great for our sport as the public will begin to view us as serious athletes, real fighters, not just females "doing their best". " This taken from the IFMA facebook page. *

PIC  -
I was intrigued then to be sent this comment posted by Joe Cummings (renowned Lonely Planet Thailand writer) on his page - after he attended the opening show: 

"I was sceptical going in but I think it's a novel approach that works. It's reaching an audience that had a hard time accepting female muaythai fighters, including a lot of women, who are being pulled in by the beauty side of it and then are held by the athleticism. I was one of very few farang in the audience, even though the fighters came from 15 countries, and judging from today's turnout, a majority of the audience were women."

Getting people to watch women fighting is always tough, there is still an element of the sideshow about it all for many viewers. 'Farang' is Thai for foreigner, so as there were a lot of Thais there that's a good sign. Definitely curious to see how these shows develop ... 

What do you think? 

(* I worked with IFMA for 6 years in Bangkok)

Monday, September 30, 2013

AIBA World Junior and Youth Championships - Ireland takes gold

Ciara Ginty 60kg Gold

Sixteen year old Ciara Ginty from Mayo won gold at the AIBA Women's Junior + Youth World Boxing Championships 2013 over the weekend - a huge achievement for Irish boxing. She was also picked as Best Junior Boxer out of 160 boxers from 31 countries

I was just listening to Ginty being interviewed on radio from Bulgaria - she sounded quite shell-shocked still even two days later. And of course the comparisons with Katie Taylor have already started, helped by them being in the same weight category at 60kgs. 

Ginty said: "It's been absoloutely fantastic, great experience boxing at such a high level. It's been a really tough competition and it's been really great to be part of an Irish squad ... I was really nervous but I couldn't let that ruin my chances.' 

The presenter asked her if it has all sunk in yet. She replied: "That took a while to sink in (being the first world champ in boxing after Taylor), it eventually did."  So no pressure there, then!

Her teammate Christina Desmond took silver at 69kgs, and Jacqui Lynch took bronze in the 48kgs division leaving and Ireland finished a very credible 7th overall, more results here.

If you're wondering what the difference is between Youth and Junior: 

The AIBA Women’s Junior World Championships are staged over 13 weight categories: 44-46kg, 48kg, 50kg, 52kg, 54kg, 57kg, 60kg, 63kg, 66kg, 70kg, 75kg, 80kg and 80+kg. Bouts are held over three rounds of two minutes with a one-minute rest between rounds. Boxers born between January 1, 1997 and December 31, 1998 can register.

The AIBA Women’s Youth World Championships are staged over 10 weight categories: 45-48kg, 51kg, 54kg, 57kg, 60kg, 64kg, 69kg, 75kg, 81kg and 81+kg. Bouts are held over four rounds of two minutes with a one-minute rest between rounds. Boxers born between January 1, 1995 and December 31, 1996 can register.

Full results here on the IABA website. And lots more photos on this Twitter account taken by Liam Morley Bereton - definitely an Irish fan!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Blog holiday - hitting the road

Pic from Evan's Blog

Hey everyone, 

This blog is taking a holiday. 

I'm going away for work for about two weeks to Sierra Leone in West Africa, and won't have time to update. 

Hopefully will bring back some great sports stories along the way, you never know who you met when you hit the road. 

Stay healthy! 


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Economist looks at the finances behind women's sports

The Economist ran an intriguing article in their last issue headlined 'Game, Sex, Match' looking at the growing interest in women's sports. 

Danica Patrick NASCAR Pic AP
The main thrust is what we've been saying on this blog for years - success breeds money breeds success. It's finally happening too as the piece lists people like NASCAR driver Danica Patrick who took $9m in sponsorship last year alone. 

Female American athletes won more medals at London2012 than the male competitors according to the piece, will be interesting to see if that affects the division of funding for Rio2016? 

And here's something you might not know: "Women’s football is the fourth-largest team sport in England, measured by participation (after men’s football, rugby and cricket)." 

Unfortunately the reality behind these stand-outs is less money, less sponsorship and startlingly less media coverage than for male sports. To be fair the piece cites ESPN and SKY on their much improved coverage but overall in American women's sports gets just :"1.62% of sporting airtime on big networks" 

However the analysis is positive for the future, with another curious nugget being the growth of male fans for women's sports. That's really exciting as far more men watch sport anyhow than women, so to get them shifting their attention over is important. And to be honest, most female athletes don't care if there is a sexual element to that or not - bums on seats is what counts IMHO.

Thanks to Amber Schlaefer for drawing my attention to this piece. You can read the full article here at Women in Sport Game Sex Match on The Economist website.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Fighting the Dream - Sylvie von Duuglas Ittu in Thailand

American boxer Sylvie von Duuglas Ittu has been living and training in Thailand for over a year now at Lanna Gym in Chiang Mai.

In this great short film, she discusses her fighting aims. She's gone from being happy to have a fight at all to wanting ten, and then 50. 

Now? She says: "I thought if I can accomplish 50 fights, that's great, that's it. Now that I'm at 40 and ten away from what that goal was ....once you reach 50 then onto 51...."

Fighters training in the West will enjoy (or be horrified by) this look behind the scenes at a MuayThai fight night in Northern Thailand. Fighters sit on the ground to have their hands wrapped in the shadows, barely lit by street-lights. 

And Von Duuglas Ittu also discusses violence, and the difference between simple street brutality and the beauty of a boxing ring.

All in all, well worth the 5-mins running time. 

Produced by Rosie Brown and Ed Kiernan from Bangkok-based Yankee Brown Productions.


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?