BY MEGAN JOYCE
Strong, brave, heroic are all words typically associated with the male sporting stereotype. However, it is the women of the London 2012 Games who are defining what is really meant by steely determination and true grit.
Great Britain’s first gold medal of the Olympics, captured by rowers Helen Glover and Heather Stanning exemplifies the rise of women in British sport. Both women are the first British female rowers to claim an Olympic title. Whether it is Jessica Ennis’s zealous triumph on the track or the resilience of Katherine Grainger in the boat, British female competitors are quickly becoming heroines. Young girls can now admire the accomplished athlete, a refreshing change from the world of celebrity consumerism.
The wealth of female success across all sporting disciplines has encouraged the promotion of glamorous yet formidable role models. Britain has embraced sport more than ever before and with it the dominance of a female psyche. British athletes are also raising the profile of the minority female sports. Emma Gibbons securing Britain’s first Olympic medal in judo for twelve years, whilst the women’s boxing team are also enjoying success.
Although Great Britain’s women’s football team bowed out of the competition in the quarter-finals, they too received improved support as a result of their group match victory over Brazil. Team manager Hope Powell emphasized the effect that the Olympic Games are having on women’s football: “We have raised awareness throughout the whole of Great Britain. People are now aware that women’s football does exist and that it is a fantastic product”, she said.
Victoria Pendleton’s farewell battle in the velodrome was a poignant reminder of how the emotional woman can achieve. Although she surrendered to the prowess of Anna Mears in the women’s sprint final, Pendleton’s tears of relief signalled the end of an illustrious career. Pendleton’s gold and silver accolades at this year’s Games have seen sale figures of her bicycle range soar at Halfords stores. Indeed, it is yet another indication of how the London 2012 Olympics are inspiring a generation of women.