One of the most important aspects to creating a safe and welcoming environment is to provide reasons why people should enter. We don’t want an environment that seems hostile or dismissive of certain people, based on some aspect of their identity. One way we can do this is provide role models – this is especially the case in sports, which has, for a long time, hosted a great number of people of different identities.
After all, the finish line doesn’t care about your race or gender: whoever crosses it first, wins. Yet, due to various factors, it is of course the case that identity still is a factor. We are seeing increasing progress to be more inclusive. And helping that is role models.
Nicola Adams, the first female Olympic boxing champion, writes:
“In some respects, it doesn’t matter who inspires you. But it perhaps would have been nice to have had female trailblazers, someone to follow and show me it was possible to achieve my ambitions.”
And there are plenty of such women, thankfully, Adams herself being one.
For example, Tanni Grey-Thompson, a top paralympian with a “total Paralympic Medal tally is 11 gold, 4 silvers and 1 bronze and added to that 5 gold, 4 silver and 3 bronze medals at World Championships.”
Grey-Thompson has, over her whole career, broken 30 World Records on the track.
Perhaps most famous is Serena Williams, who the New Yorker calls “America’s greatest athlete.”
But it doesn’t need to only be someone who is regarded as the greatest athlete of her generation. Even mums who are journeying across the Atlantic are worthy of being role models.
“They are taking part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – the world’s toughest rowing race – and aim to make the crossing in less than 50 days. Rowing non-stop, they hoping to set a record as the fastest women to row across the Atlantic and raise money for two Yorkshire charities.”
This should make it more inviting for those women wanting start making their way into the arena of sports on the water – whether via rowing schools or taking a yachtmaster offshore exam.
All these women matter, as they help pave the way for future generation of athletes – who, before, might find it difficult to trailblaze where none had gone before. Inspiration matters a great deal to get people working, fit and doing sports – and role models are some of the greatest inspirations we have.