I was among those who were astounded not that long ago by the BBC Sports personality of the Year Awards when there were no women on the shirt list.
I wrote to the BBC Trust and the Chairman to ask them to outline how this could happen and how they can ensure it does not happen again. The reply I got was rather non-committal to be blunt, but the furore that surrounded their short list I suspect means that it will not happen again.
I was not triathlon blogging at the time of the awards so did not really outline what I was doing and what I did but it was going through my mind again whilst I was running this week.
My initial irritation with the shortlist was that there were no women, but it was no a thing about equality for its own sake. I am against positive discrimination usually but this seemed to me to be wrong on merit too. How could the BBC overlook the great things achieved generally by triathletes in the UK in 2011 and especially the women?
We have Alastair Brownlee winning the World Championship again and odds on favourite for Golf at the Olympics, we have Helen Jenkins the Women’s World Champion this year and another favourite for a medal at the Olympics and winner of the World Championship race at Hyde park this Year (the Olympic course!). On top of that we have Chrissie Wellington, the phenomenon who just keeps breaking records and won her 4 th World Ironman Championship at Kona, despite serious injury just weeks before the race. She also broke the World Record ….. again!
Time and again I have found some parts of our media frustrating a their lack of acknowledgement for our Triathletes and their success. When Alistair won the Hyde park World Championship Race this year BBC Radio 5 Live kept getting his surname wrong (despite me and others tweeting them the correction). We read stories in daily newspapers about our top medal prospects for 2012 and time and again we see no mention of our Triathletes: can anyone seriously see a better prospect for a Gold medal at the Olympics that Alastair Brownlee or medal prospects better than Helen Jenkins and Jonathan Brownlee too?
Even I am doing a disservice to some of our athletes in this article, as we have an amazing crop of triathlete and our Paratriathletes are also leading the way and I have not got the space in a blog to mention them all and all their achievements this year and more generally. Suffice to say we are the Country that has got paratriathlon onto the Olympic register and we have world champions too.
This is why I was proud to become a Fellow for British Triathlon last year and why I am keen to do all I can to promote the sport and its atheletes in a wider circle. In whatever small way I can. I can think of no other sport that is so inclusive across all levels. There are not many sports where a beginer can race the same course at the same time as the World Champion and their sister, brother, mother, father, grandfather and I could go on. It corsses abilities, disabilities, ages and sexes and as suhch is one of the most inclusive sports we cn take part in. Plus it is good for us and especially for children wihtthe mix of disciplines to work on too.
So, I am still left wondering not just how did the BBC manage to overlook any women but more poignantly how did the BBC overlook our British Triathletes who have achieved so much in 2011 and have such amazing prospects for 2012?