Tag Archives: sportswomen

Boat race sponsors Newton turn tide for women rowers Laura Williamson column

Boat race sponsors turn tide for women rowers at long last with equal funding and prestige

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As the BBC and now BT Sport seem to have noted, you get a lot more action and access for your money when it comes to buying the television, sponsorship and commercial rights for women’s disciplines.

The Boat Race, an event that exudes privilege, pomp and circumstance like no other, might seem an unlikely cause to champion a step forward for sportswomen, but it is the tradition and rigmarole that makes this a particularly important development.

When Katherine Grainger returned from the Sydney Olympics in 2000 after winning Great Britain’s first medal in women’s rowing, a silver in the quad, she said someone came up to her and said: ‘We didn’t even know women rowed.’

You can understand why few — men or women — would want to, given the demands of a sport that has little time for finesse or creativity and commands absolute teamwork to succeed at the highest level.

Anna Watkins (left), with whom Grainger won gold so memorably in London in the double sculls, has said a family member tried to put her off rowing in case ‘she got big arms’. It’s all in the legs, of course, but sweeping generalisations have no time for small technicalities like that.

Watkins ploughed on regardless and, 12 years after Grainger came back from Australia with that silver medal, Britain’s women won their first Olympic gold medals since the sport was added to the programme in 1976 — three of them, in fact.

If the wheels of Oxford and Cambridge can creak slowly into action with regard to a sport as brutal and punishing as rowing, it feels like anything could happen.

WHAT THEY SAID

British athlete Lisa Dobriskey said she did not believe she was ‘competing on a level playing field’ in the Olympic 1500metres final in London and was roundly accused of sour grapes.

The gold medal-winner, Turkey’s Cakir Alptekin, is now facing a lifetime ban after ‘big abnormalities’ were found in her biological passport. Some might just owe Dobriskey an apology.

Accused: Lisa Dobriskey's opponent is facing a lifetime ban for 'big abnormalities' in her biological passport

Accused: Lisa Dobriskey's opponent is facing a lifetime ban for 'big abnormalities' in her biological passport

WHAT I'VE BEEN DOING THIS WEEK

Watched Wrexham win the FA Trophy with a 4-1 penalty shootout win over Grimsby.

On Saturday, Grimsby fans congregated in Trafalgar Square for a photo. ‘Which team is this’ said a steward. ‘So are they in the Champions League, then’ I wish.

Glory: Ecstatic Wrexham player-manager Andy Morrell celebrates with the FA Trophy

Glory: Ecstatic Wrexham player-manager Andy Morrell celebrates with the FA Trophy

Got exasperated at the persistent use of the phrase ‘pre-planned’ to describe Rio Ferdinand’s fitness programme. It is either planned or it is not, just like the defender’s ill-advised little jaunt to Doha.

Attended my first Women in Football meeting at Stamford Bridge on Friday after being, I admit, very dubious about the whole idea. I just want to be ‘in football’ rather than a ‘WiF’. I can’t tell you anything else owing to Chatham House rules, but it was certainly very, very interesting.

PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK

Arsenal Ladies beat ASD Torres 3-1 in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final at Boreham Wood.

Glad to see there’s still one English team fighting for the cause in Europe — and the women’s final is at Stamford Bridge this year, too. The second leg takes place in Sardinia on Wednesday.

Jessica Ennis wants to keep Toni Minichiello at any cost

Ennis willing to pay to keep Minichiello after UK Athletics restructure sees him axed as Olympic coach

, has lost his job as an Olympic coach, becoming a high-profile casualty of UK Athletics' restructuring plan around a single High Performance Institute in Loughborough.

Ennis wants to keep training in her home city of Sheffield – potentially at a redeveloped Woodbourn Road Stadium with her current training base at Don Valley to be demolished – and Minichiello plans to stay with her.

He has no other Olympic or world medallists in his training group, meaning he will not be due a full-time UK Athletics salary.

Minichiello
had been in talks with the governing body, and it was thought he would
be offered a new consultancy role on reduced terms to work specifically
with Ennis, but it seems he will not be taking up any such offer.

Asked
on Monday about the possibility of helping fund Minichiello, Ennis
said: 'We have had a chat and if that is what it comes down to, then of
course I will just support him where I can, and we will just carry on.'

Award winning: Ennis was given the Laureus Sportswomen of the Year trophy on Monday night

Award winning: Ennis was given the Laureus Sportswomen of the Year trophy on Monday night

She added: 'There is not going to be any change – a lot of people have said, “Are you moving to another coach”

'No, everything is going to stay the same, but we just need to find a way of funding it.'

Ennis
was speaking in Rio de Janeiro, where she was yesterday named Laureus
World Sportswoman of the Year in recognition of her heptathlon triumph
in London, achieved with a British record score of 6,955 points.

She has been keen to emphasise the part played by Minichiello in that success.

And while sure her coach can fight his own corner well enough, Ennis has also made it clear that she is there for him.

'I will obviously support Toni as much as I can, and I am there for him, because we are a team, but I do have to let him fight his own battles and get on with it,' Ennis said.

Support: The gold-medal winning athlete Ennis pledged Minichiello her backing

Support: The gold-medal winning athlete Ennis pledged Minichiello her backing

'But I do feel that we had such a great year together – it wasn't just me that performed, it was both of us who worked really hard for that performance in London.

'So it is just not a nice position to be in when you have done something so special, and then you find yourself in a really difficult situation after.'

Several of Ennis' fellow Britons also picked up awards at Monday night's Laureus ceremony, with Andy Murray claiming the World Breakthrough of the Year gong having followed up his own medal success at the Olympics – gold in the singles and silver in the mixed doubles – by winning his first grand slam title at the US Open.

Sebastian Coe, the chairman of the organising committee for London 2012, received the Lifetime Achievement Award, and there was further recognition of a memorable year for British sport as the European Ryder Cup squad, which featured seven UK golfers, were named World Team of the Year after their 'Miracle of Medinah' comeback triumph over the United States.

Among the other winners was Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, named World Sportsman of the Year for a third time after he claimed a treble of gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay in London, repeating the hat-trick he pulled off at Beijing 2008.

Luke Donald annoys golf writers before The Open: Charles Sale

Charles Sale: Golf writers teed off by Donald's digs

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UPDATED:

23:12 GMT, 18 July 2012

World No 1 Luke Donald caused a
considerable stir on the eve of The Open with his less than gracious
response after winning the prestigious Golf Writers’ Trophy.

Donald, making his acceptance speech
in front of the game’s top brass at the Association of Golf Writers’
annual dinner at Royal Lytham, chose the occasion to be chippy in the
extreme about the tabloid press who had helped vote him top golfer of
the year.

However, Donald, who wrote the speech
himself rather than relying on his IMG management team, claimed
yesterday that he must have been misunderstood by the critical audience.

Ruffling feathers: Donald

Ruffling feathers: Donald

He said: ‘I was just trying to be
light-hearted. I’ve no problem with the British press. I get on well
with them and was trying to reflect that. It seems some people have
got the wrong impression.’ They certainly have.

Meanwhile, the AGW missed an
opportunity by not giving more recognition to the Curtis Cup-winning
quartet in attendance, who all look like models as well as being top
sportswomen. It was a particular shame considering the sexist men-only
Royal St George’s hosted The Open last year and another male bastion,
Muirfield, will do so in 2013.

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Ashley's 2m payout

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, who is considering bringing 35million striker Andy Carroll back to Tyneside if the price is right, might have to put 2m aside for Open Championship expenditure.

The sponsorship deal the Ashley-owned Dunlop brand has with Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke pays them 2m for winning a major. Westwood is again one of the favourites this week — as he was last year when Clarke took the Claret Jug and Ashley paid up just three days later.

Olazabal absent

Jose Maria Olazabal is nowhere to be seen at Royal Lytham despite being captain of the Ryder Cup team who will defend the trophy in Chicago in two months.

It is understood the Spaniard doesn’t feel the need to be at The Open, having failed to qualify, although his US counterpart Davis Love III is in the field.

It would be extremely rare in any other high-profile sport for a team boss not to watch all his players in action, as well as the opposition, ahead of an event as big as the Ryder Cup.

However, the last European captain to win in America was Bernhard Langer in 2004 and he missed that year’s Open for family reasons.

Staying away: Olazabal

Staying away: Jose Maria Olazabal

BBC's big bid

BBC Sport are understood to have paid around 100million to secure exclusive TV and online rights to the summer Olympics in 2016 and 2020 and two winter Games.

This is despite Sky having discussions with the IOC about buying the contract and then sub-leasing it to fulfil free-to-air commitments. In the event Sky did not bid.

And having had the door closed on their Olympic ambitions, Sky’s resolve for hours of daily non-rights Olympic coverage will be tested.

G4S score Open goal

The biggest surprise at Royal Lytham this week is that the 200-strong workforce from bungling security firm G4S, who have a three-year contract, have all turned up at the course.

R&A executive director of championships Johnnie Cole-Hamilton said: ‘All the managers and supervisors, who we’ve been using for many, many years, are back with us. The numbers we asked for are all here. We have no issue whatsoever.’ Pity London 2012 can’t say the same, although some of the G4S golf personnel are bound for Stratford after The Open.

Is Rio on course

Golf enters the Olympics in 2016, but work on constructing the course in Rio will not start until October at the earliest following complications over the land ownership.

Despite the tight timescale, R&A chief executive Peter Dawson is confident it will be ready for a test event in 2015. Dawson was on the panel that chose American Gil Hanse as course designer ahead of golfing greats Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Greg Norman.

Hanse, responsible for Scottish Open course Castle Stuart, is prepared to live in Brazil during construction.

BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards boycott threat from BOA

BOA chiefs threaten BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards boycott over shortlist

The absence of any sportswomen on the BBC”s final shortlist for this year”s Sports Personality of the Year award could see senior British Olympic Association officials BOYCOTT next week”s ceremony in Salford.

BOA chairman Lord Moynihan and chief executive Andy Hunt have been invited to next Thursday awards but are still considering whether to attend.

Missing out: Rebecca Adlington was a surprise omission from the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award shortlist

Missing out: Rebecca Adlington was a surprise omission from the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award shortlist

2012 SPORTS PERSONALTY OF THE YEAR SHORTLIST

Mark Cavendish (cycling)
Darren Clarke (golf)
Alastair Cook (cricket)
Luke Donald (golf)
Mo Farah (athletics)
Dai Greene (athletics)
Amir Khan (boxing)
Rory McIlroy (golf)
Andy Murray (tennis)
Andrew Strauss (cricket)

A BOA spokesman said it was more important that the BBC had agreed to review the shortlisting process.

The spokesman said: “The Sports Personality of the Year is a prestigious honour and, typically, the BBC does a fantastic job recognising truly deserving sports men and women.

“This year, however, there were some glaring omissions from the list.

“Whether we attend this year is less important than what happens with the award in the future.

“To that end, we are encouraged to see that the BBC will review the process by which the finalists and winners are chosen in subsequent years.

Boycott: BOA chairman Lord Moynihan may not attend next week

Boycott: BOA chairman Lord Moynihan may not attend next week”s ceremony

“With next year being an Olympic year – and such an important year for British sport – this review is timely and will no doubt lead to an even better process going forward.”

The BOA feel strongly about the issue because almost half of the British team at London 2012 will be women athletes.