National Girls and Women in Sports Day
Introduced in 1987, the National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD) is an annual event that recognises the amazing accomplishments of female athletes and showcases their continued efforts to achieve equality for women in sport. To mark the occasion, we’ve highlighted just a handful of these incredible women, who’ve inspired us here at the Sporting Agenda office.
Simone Biles (24), an American artistic gymnast, first fell in love with the sport at the age of six, when on a field trip to Bannon’s Gymnastix (Houston, Texas). Her keen interest and ability to mimic the gymnasts moves quickly caught the coach’s attention, and two years later she joined their training program. After winning two World Championship golds at the age of sixteen, she shot to fame and by 2016 (then old enough to qualify) was announced as part of the squad for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, winning four gold medals, and a bronze. In 2018 she competed at the US National Championships, becoming the first female in 25 years to win all five events, and then went on to win fourteen more medals across 2019/2021. Biles bravely spoke out about the abuse she received from Larry Nassar (the former US gymnast team doctor), encouraging many others to do the same. Since then Biles has opened up about her mental health, taking time out to focus on this and helping raise awareness of the subject.
Just 13 years old, Sky Brown is a British-Japanese skateboarder and currently Great Britain’s youngest Olympic medallist. Having learnt her craft through her father, mentoring from Tony Hawk and the help of YouTube, Sky’s ‘board’ skills don’t stop at the skatepark. She’s also a keen surfer, spending much of her time riding the waves of Miyazaki, Japan, in the hope of one day achieving an Olympic medal in surfing too. She is the first-ever female skateboarder to land a 720 and 540 at the X Games, and despite a previous half pipe accident that left her with a fractured skull, is determined to carry on competing and setting new records. Sky has raised the bar in female skateboarding, and in what is still primarily a male-dominated sport, has encouraged many females to get involved.
Dina Asher-Smith, is currently the fastest female sprinter in British history. Born in London, Dina attended Newstead School, along with fellow sports star Emma Radacanu, and since the age of 8 has been coached by the well-known John Blackie at Blackheath and Bromley Harriers Athletics Club. She holds a number of records including an incredible 10.83 secs for 100m. In 2013 she was the youngest team member to compete at the Moscow World Championships, in which her team won a bronze. Since then, she’s gone on to win numerous awards including:
2014 World Junior championships – 100m Gold
2016 European Championships – 200m gold and 4x100m silver
2016 Olympic Games – 4 x 100m relay bronze
2017 World Championships – 4 x 100m relay silver
2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games – Gold and Bronze
2019 IAAF World Championships – Gold and silver
Sadly, Dina had to withdraw from Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics due to a hamstring tear, but in a bid to make up for lost time (and put all our New Year’s Resolutions to shame), Dina will be pushing her body to the limit, looking to win golds at the 2022 World Championships, Commonwealth Games and European Championships!
How could we not mention Emma Radacanu – 2021s BBC Sports Personality of the Year. At just 19 years old, Emma has risen to fame by becoming the first qualifier and youngest British player to win a Grand Slam title at the US Open. She’s been playing tennis since the age of 5, learning at Bromley Tennis centre, close to where she grew up. She is currently ranked world number 19 (having started last year at 343). She then went on to compete at Wimbledon, reaching the fourth round and becoming the youngest British woman to progress to the last 16 of The Championships in the Open Era. Most recently Emma has been competing at the Australia Open, winning her first match against US Open Champion Sloane Stephens, before unfortunately losing a second-round against Daneka Kovinic. Medics had advised she not play at all, due to worsening blisters on her hand, but that wasn’t enough to stop her. Next on the agenda will be getting as many matches as possible under her belt ahead of the Indian Wells tournament. There’s plenty more of Emma to be seen on our screens!
Dame Laura Kenny – 5 x Olympic Champion and 7 x World Champion is a track and road cyclist, specialising in track endurance events. Her incredible journey to date is so unique and can only leave you in awe of her success. Having been born prematurely with a collapsed lung and diagnosed with asthma, I’m sure no one could have predicted where she’d be today. Initially encouraged to undertake sport to regulate her breathing, Laura took to the bike alongside her other family members (also keen to get fit). Kenny became the first British woman to take home gold at three consecutive games and now stands as the most successful athlete in Games history. She really won the crowds at the 2012 London Olympics, helping the GB team win a total of 12 medals. Her own medal collection currently stands at 63, 44 of which are gold. Laura has also been a part of teams that on at least 11 occasions have broken world records. And in case all of this wasn’t enough, Laura is also mother to her four-year-old son Albert.