The Olympics story for women, so far

I wrote recently about some of the issues surround women and the Olympics so it’s nice to have a bit of an update after the first few days of the competition.

The great news is that British women are doing really well. The first Team  GB medal went to cyclist Lizzie Armitstead, who won silver in the women’s road race. Rebecca Adlington has since grabbed a bronze medal and yesterday Helen Glover and Heather Stanning got the first Team GB Gold medal in the rowing and Gemma Gibbons bagged a fantastic silver medal in Judo.

The rowers were particularly dominant and stormed to victory, which makes it a little disappointing that todays Guardian front page had a photo of Bradley Wiggins on it with the headline ‘Phew!’. The women got the gold before he did!

Still, generally the press have been making a huge fuss of the women and celebrating their achievements every bit as much as they should. 

Similarly the women’s football team have had loads of press coverage and the match against Brazil at Wembley on Tuesday was attended by a massive 70,000 people. Their profile has been pushed along in part by Stylist magazines Fair Game campaign. 

Thankfully Frankie Boyle’s usual obnoxious attempt at humour (which differs from most people’s attempts at humour by not being funny) were also met with general annoyance on Twitter and in the press, as he took another swipe at Rebecca Adlington’s looks. Most people don’t care what she looks like, they just care about her performance, and with one bronze medal in the bag and a fantastic qualifier for her 800m final tonight, I think everyone’s pretty pleased with her.

Unfortunately, the Telegraph seems to think it’s a good idea to publish reactionary, sexist rubbish about how wrong it see to see animalistic aggression from women, and how worrying it is to see them bruise their ‘soft limbs’. 

Outside Team GB’s success women have been having different experiences. I was one of many who were really happy that Saudi Arabia eventually relented and sent women to the Olympics. This is the first year in history in fact that every country has sent men and women to compete. However, these women, who had little notice that they would be going to the Olympics have been up against quite a backlash, as detailed in The Guardian and The New Statesman, not least the facts that they were targetted under an Arabic hashtag on Twitter that roughly translates as Olympic Whores, and have struggled to compete in the hijab.  

Meanwhile the women’s doubles teams in Badminton haven’t done their profile much good. I was actually in Wembley Arena on Tuesday night to see two doubles matches where both teams were trying to lose. It was such a poor display and in both cases the teams were booed off the court. They’ve now been disqualified from the competition, which seems only right. I have some sympathy for the players who were obviously under orders from their team managers or coaches but it was a really distasteful display. 

In slight tangents however, I love The Guardian’s gallery of the nail art on display at The Olympics. I had noticed that Rebecca Adlington had Union flag nails, and that Lizzie Armistead had immaculate red nails winning her silver medal as well as various other competitors, but the gallery shows some great examples. It just seems like a really fun way to bring a bit of girlieness in (for those who want to). 

Finally, I’ve slowly been becoming a Clare Balding fan the more I’ve seen of her on TV in recent times. During the Olympics she’s been hosting a great deal of the BBC’s coverage and has just been brilliant. She really knows what she’s talking about, she’s funny and egnaging and she seems to have a way of connecting with everyone she interviews and hosts with. The last two days I’ve noticed an awful lot of love for her on Twitter and today The Guardian labelled her coverage ‘Olympic Gold’  It’s great to see a woman on TV, and especially in Sports coverage, being loved for her charm and skill as a presenter. 

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