British canoeist challenges gender inequality at London Olympics
Last month British canoeist Samantha Rippington launched a High Court challenge over the exclusion of women’s canoeing events from the London Olympic schedule.
Eton Dorney has seen tense women’s finals in both rowing and kayaking, making the decision to exclude women from competing in the canoe events seemingly inexplicable.
Gender equality has been given a high profile at this year’s Games. Not only is it the first time in Olympic history that all Olympic Committees have submitted female participants, but the first women’s boxing medal was won by Britain’s Nicola Adams.
Critics of the appeal have suggested that there are simply not sufficient numbers of female participants to sustain women’s canoeing as an Olympic discipline.
However Rippington, who also works as a PE teacher, suggests that this is a circular argument: “Not being an Olympic sport means lower levels of funding, support and training opportunities than the men, which makes progression, both individually and in terms of the sport itself, very difficult.”
Rippington and her canoeing partner Lisa Suttle have just returned from the Women’s Canoe Cup, where they won medals in both the individual and double events.