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To mark tomorrow’s International Women’s Day, the House of Lords yesterday held a debate about women’s rights, including women’s access to sport.
Lib dem peer Lord Addington said: “I have been provided with figures from the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation. Only 5 per cent of sports coverage is given to women’s sport and there is still no woman professional player in a team sport in this country.
“In some papers, the closest that you come to women in sport during the winter season…is the WAGs syndrome. Whether X’s wife is going to leave him after a drunken night out seems to be about as close as we come to seriously covering women in sport.
“I think that it is sad that…only 20 per cent of women take enough exercise. At the very least, there is a huge on-cost to the Department of Health.
“What pressure are the Government putting on the media, especially the public-access media, to give more attention to women’s sport generally? When will we pay attention to those who succeed in their own fields?
“A classic example was when Nicole Cooke recently won the French cycling tour. On the same day, [tennis player] Andrew Murray received a minor injury to his wrist. She won; he might have won. I suggest that some attention should be given to this problem.”
Lord Addington is right, the British media largely ignores women cyclists. But not The Observer. Last Sunday’s edition is already a collector’s issue for male and lesbian cycle sport fans: the Sport Monthly mag, in a homage to a famous Lance Armstrong cover pic, featured Victoria Pendleton in the buff on her bike.
Despite picking up the 2007 Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year award in November, Ms Pendleton did not make the shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.
She told The Times: “‘You have to be realistic. I’d love to be more famous, have lots of people supporting me, people knowing my name, but I need a tennis racket, or a golf club, or to play football. Being a female I don’t stand a chance.”
Want more pix of Victoria ‘pin-up’ Pendleton? There’s a photo set here. Click ‘multimedia’ for 12 shots of Ms Pendleton in designer glamourwear. The pix also feature British Cycling’s £12,000 track bike.