Tuesday, 8 March 2016

These Girls Can!

I like to celebrate women's achievements everyday, and there are a lot of women achieving lots of things around the world. But go on then, as it's "International Women's Day" here's my bit.

I would like to give mention to a few women in cycling who have been trailblazers and really stood out. Some had to battle against the odds but they managed to break through whatever barriers and dealing with adversity - poverty, accident, family constraints or sexism. I can't go without mentioning Beryl Burton, who I have great admiration for, and will continue to admire. And as one of Yorkshire's toughest I am sure we will be remembering her again at the Tour de Yorkshire next month.

I also can't go without mentioning Marianne Vos, who I find amazing. As someone who has met her on a number of occasions I would say she is a very nice person as well. Even though she has been a multiple-time world champion across various disciplines in cycling she has a lot of time for the humble biker like me, and she has been instrumental in promoting women's cycling around the world.

And now for other stand-out folks:

Victoria Pendleton - Yesterday it was announced that she will be competing in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, not on two wheels but on four legs! Yes, the Olympic track cyclist has reinvented herself as a jockey! She only started horseracing a year ago and she is going to be representing at one of the top horseracing events in the UK next week!

She has had mixed fortunes in horseracing, having crashed out at Fakenham in February but then won her race last week at Wincanton. Furthermore she has had mixed reactions from the horseracing community with champion jump jockey John Francome saying she should quit before she hurts herself, while 20-time jump jockey champion AP McCoy, who has been giving Victoria a bit of coaching has been very encouraging and says that her participation in jump racing is good for the sport.

Whatever she does, I think that Vicky is a credit to women's sport because she gets out there. When speaking to her it is clear that she is very driven and motivated and it is hugely inspiring to others.

Apart from a cyclist in the para-sports category of the Laureus World Sports Award nominations the only cyclist is none other than Rachel Atherton - World Downhill mountain bike Champion. She herself described it as a "crazy and massive honour"! So she'll be sharing the stage with the likes of Lindsey Vonn, Serena Williams, Lewis Hamilton, Lionel Messi and Usain Bolt.

It would be great to see Rachel win in the Action Sports category. Whether she does or not I think she has been a trailblazer - literally with all her antics throwing herself down hills and notching up championship title after title since she was 14. (She's now 28).

From further back in time I must mention Camden's finest (after Amy Winehouse) Billie Fleming. She only set the women's record for the greatest distance covered in a year, in 1938 - 29,604 miles! Then lived on to the ripe old age when she died aged 100 two years ago.

And talking of more firsts - Annie "Londonderry" Cohen Kopchovsky, in the 19th century was the original "new woman." In 1894, at the age of 24 and leaving behind three young children at home, was the first woman to circumnavigate the globe by bicycle through accidents, mishaps and high water. Makes me feel lazy when I groan about riding just down to Brighton!

So there you have it, a few trail blazers that inspire me and make me think. This Girl Can!











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