Women in sport: pride, prejudice and promise

UK Sport’s Sally Munday counters claims of misogyny in the organisation’s support for female competitors, while Ann Deary Francis and Aaron Nelson say cricket’s new Hundred format has boosted the women’s game

UK Sport has a strong, proven and ongoing commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion (Letter, 2 August). For the first time at a summer Olympics, Team GB contained more female athletes than male. And Britain’s women produced a host of trailblazing performances in Tokyo.

Laura Kenny became Britain’s most decorated female Olympian and the first British woman to win gold at three Olympics. Hannah Mills is now the most decorated female sailor in Olympic history, and Emily Campbell was the first British woman to win a weightlifting medal. And who can forget the 13-year-old skateboarder Sky Brown, Britain’s youngest Olympic medallist?

UK Sport has been supporting BMX since 2005. While there was a time when women’s BMX wasn’t in receipt of funding at the start of the Tokyo cycle in 2017, that only lasted one year, following an annual review that saw funding reinstated in early 2018.

For the avoidance of any doubt, the gender of the athletes had no bearing on the decision for them not to be funded. Men’s mountain biking was in an identical position during this timeframe and was also reinstated. Bethany Shriever has been part of British Cycling’s national lottery-funded World Class Programme in this cycle since 2019, and we shared British fans’ pride and joy as she, Kye Whyte, Charlotte Worthington and Declan Brooks fulfilled their dreams in Tokyo.

​None of the trailblazing moments delivered by Britain’s female Olympians would have been possible if UK Sport’s culture and processes were tainted by the slightest hint of misogyny. UK Sport’s commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion will continue through to Paris and beyond.
Sally Munday
CEO, UK Sport

• Numerous writers agree with Matthew Engel’s damning verdict on the Hundred (Letters, 6 August). In its defence, it is a brilliant showcase for the women’s game and has given visibility to a number of excellent female players. I’m an activator for All Stars cricket and took my seven-year-old daughter to Headingley last week. It was a great day, her first live cricket experience; she met female players and loved it. We’re enjoying watching the matches as a family. Do I still watch the Tests? Yes. And I hope my daughter will too, after having her love of cricket reinforced by a fun competition and easily accessible format.

The ECB gets a lot of stick, but its efforts to engage young people and women in cricket should be applauded. There’s room for different types of cricket.
Ann Deary Francis
Rothbury, Northumberland

• I accept longtime cricket lovers may query the ECB’s expenditure on the Hundred and may find aspects of the spectacle irritating, jarring or unnecessary. But my 10-year-old daughter and her three friends wouldn’t have been at the Oval for the first match if it weren’t for the free tickets distributed by the ECB via the local girls’ cricket team; wouldn’t have appreciated the first-half boundaries as much without the pyrotechnics; wouldn’t have stuck around for the second half without the added incentive of Becky Hill; and so wouldn’t have been on the edge of their seats for the final few balls, and then dancing in the aisles when the Invincibles hit the winning runs.
Aaron Nelson
Camberwell, London

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