Nino Severino: So disappointing to see women do so badly in Sports Personality of the Year voting
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In his latest column, Nino Severino expresses his displeasure at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2017 voting results, and discusses the Elena Baltacha Foundation’s Judy Murray Gift Evening.
If you are a sports fan I am sure you watched the Sports Personality of the Year awards 2017 as I did, and I must admit I was very disappointed with the results in terms of the outcome for the female nominees.
I am very involved in sport, which includes coaching women as well as men – and the results of massively high profile television shows like SPOTY will have an influence on the national audience of young girls watching, their view of sport and their participation decisions.
When you study the voting figures, it’s absolutely jaw-dropping.
There were four women among the 12 shortlisted athletes – Elise Christie, Jo Konta, Bianca Walkden and Anya Shrubsole – and all of these Great British athletes were placed in the bottom four of the voting results.
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It actually gets worst as you start to break down the figures. Between all four female athletes, they received 43,294 votes, while winner Mo Farah received 83,524 on his own.
I must admit, I do believe that much of the voting is a reflection on the amount of television cover of female sports versus male and it is getting better – hopefully in the future as this continues to increase, we will see an impact on the public voting.
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On a positive, it was absolutely fantastic to see the England women’s cricket team winning the Team of the Year award, as a result of them beating India at Lord’s and being crowned the 2017 World Cup Champions.
And also to see Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill received a well-earned Lifetime Achievement award – it’s not difficult to see why, with Olympic gold at the London 2012 games, gold at the World Championships in 2009 in Berlin and gold at the European Championships in Barcelona in 2010, all incredible sporting achievements.
Seeing these women receiving the respect and adulation from the British audience was a big boost for female sport, and an incredible example and inspiration for any young girls in sport, or those who are thinking of getting involved.
All these women show great mental strength, personality and character through their sporting efforts and it’s absolutely fantastic for all the young female viewers to see.
It’s also a great motivation for me, and helps me to continue to drive the projects I am involved in.
I have spent a lot of time over the last two weeks working with a number of professional coaches building a programme around mental toughness in sport, and why it has such a massive effect on the performance of the young athlete as they grow through the ranks.
Having a life in sport I believe in itself has an incredible effect on mental strength – having this strength will impact on how these young athletes will deal with the challenges that life will throw at them, both in and out of the world of sport.
This is why I am so passionate about increasing the participation figures of young females across all sport, because it provides a positive world of structure that helps them develop their bodies and minds in a very healthy way.
Within the Elena Baltacha Foundation we are continually trying to do our bit in terms of using sport to develop our young female athletes, and we have three incredible women as patrons and ambassador who help us to do this in Martina Navratilova, Judy Murray and Jo Konta.
It’s very important to all these women that the foundation team are committed to producing a support programme that has an effect on the girl’s lives, and all of them are involved in helping us do this.
On Tuesday, we held the “Judy Murray Gift Evening” – Judy sends the foundation gifts throughout the year, and we turn this generosity into an official foundation event.
It’s an evening all about girls in sport, and an opportunity for the players, coaches, parents and foundation team members such as Leoni Waghorn, foundation mentor, to have the opportunity to build camaraderie and positive relationships, all of which has an incredible effect on their young lives through sport.