A record-breaking Olympics for female athletes, but will the attention last?
As distressing as it may be, London 2012 can’t go on forever. But as the Olympics draw to a close this weekend, we can look back on two record-breaking weeks for female athletes.
The first Olympic games to feature women from every participating country; the first games in which women could take part in every sport; the highest ever number of medals on offer for women. The list just goes on and on.
For Team GB, a higher proportion of women taking part (48%) has led to a higher number of medals for British women: 18 in the individual disciplines, as of half past seven on Thursday night. It’s not just about the raw stats: our female athletes have been capturing the hearts of the nation, and crucially, the mainstream media.
The level of media attention lavished on female athletes during the Olympics marks a huge difference from the norm. For the last two weeks, we’ve gloried in the success of our female cyclists, even as Lizzie Armitstead has pointed out the sexism she experiences in professional cycling outside of the Olympics. We’ve bickered over whether bikinis distract spectators from the volleyball players’ athleticism, although most of us couldn’t name the defending champions if we tried.
Will the media attention last? Who knows. But female athletes perform at this level year in, year out, whether the papers notice them or not. And if Team GB’s women have captured your attention this Olympiad, there are plenty of ways to follow their fortunes until Rio 2016 rolls around. Here are our top three sites dedicated to women’s sport.
Sportsister is an online and print magazine dedicated to involving women in sports and fitness. Throughout the games, its twitter feed has been industriously following the successes of each and every female GB athlete.
The site features training plans, race reports and nutrition advice, as well as tips for beginners for sports as diverse as tennis and paddle boarding. Recent features include interviews with Laura Trott, Lisa Dobriskey, and triathlete Chrissy Wellington.
The Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation
WSFF is a charity campaigning to “make physical activity an everyday part of life for women and girls”. As it points out on its website, many women are put off by sport because of lack of facilities, the absence of publicity of female sporting role models, and bad memories of school PE lessons.
Its Go Girl campaign aims to capitalise on GB women’s Olympic success to celebrate women’s sport and inspire others to get fit.
For the last few months, Stylist magazine has been running the Fair Game campaign, petitioning for gender equality in sports. The stats it highlights are truly shocking: only 5 per cent of sports media coverage features women, and women receive only 0.5 per cent of total sports sponsorship. The campaign hopes to collect 100,000 signatures calling for a House of Commons debate on the state of women’s sport.
Stylist magazine doesn’t just talk the talk: the site is packed with news and features focused on female athletes.