Claire Black: They’re not passive, or sexualised, they’re not unhealthily thin
ON FRIDAY, Jessica Ennis smashed the 100m hurdles. She set an astonishing personal best, clocked the fastest time ever for that event in the heptathlon and set a new British record. Awesome.
Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins took gold in the double skulls. Brilliant.
I hope by now judo medal-winners Gemma Gibbons and Karina Bryant are sitting in a hot tub somewhere with their silver and bronze respectively slung round their necks, being brought platters of turkish delight and gallons of champagne. And that road cyclist Lizzie Armitstead, who won the first medal of the Games for Britain, is pulling wheelies around the Olympic Village and showing off a new set of spokey dokeys.
Women athletes are excelling in London 2012. They are winning big style. And even when they’re not winning we are, because as we watch them, their bodies honed through years of training and hard graft, their technique through early morning starts and late nights in gyms, their guts and grit through dedication and practice, we’re seeing women’s bodies and their physical capacity in a way that couldn’t be further from what we’re usually subjected to. These women are strong and muscly, they are fit and capable. They are on show but not as titillation. They’re not passive, or sexualised, they’re not unhealthily thin or wearing clothes in which you wouldn’t fit or shoes in which no one could walk.
Maybe that’s why alongside the achievements of Wojdan Shaherkani, the 16-year-old Saudi judo player who became the first woman ever to compete for the country, and Zoe Smith, the British weightlifter who broke the British clean and jerk record in the women’s 58kg event finishing in 11th place overall, there have been blogs suggesting it’s unseemly for women to be involved in contact sports, tweets snarking about “manly” bodies and the way that some athletes do their hair. Maybe it’s also why some commentators can’t stop calling women in their 30s “girls”.
London 2012 is apparently all about legacy. I think that means they won’t dismantle the stadiums as soon as everyone is gone. Good. Grand. I’m up for that. But wouldn’t it also be great if there was a lasting impact of the achievements of all of these sportswomen, not least in how we look at women’s bodies and the incredible feats that they can do?
• WHILE I wouldn’t want to do anything to diminish the sheer sporting magnificence of Bradley Wiggins, might I ask that if he did say that cycling helmets should be made compulsory (he says he didn’t but others say he did) can we all please ignore him? Helmets are not the way to make roads safer for bikes, improved infrastructure is. It really is that simple. If, however, what Wiggo said was that he believes sideburns should be made compulsory, then this I will happily support.
• SO YOU get to the bar, you order the drinks and then you realise you have no wallet. What do you do? OK, it’s not that hard, you make your poor mate pay for the drinks and then you give them no chat as you search your bag repeatedly before phoning your bank to cancel your cards. This happened to me last week. And then my wallet was handed in to my office, contents intact. Chris Osborne, whoever you are, you are a very, very good person. I thank you. «
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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