Women's Sport Report interview by Laura Hannan
After her thrilling and successful Summer, Nicole found time to talk to us about her support for Nike’s ‘Here I Am’ campaign. The Champion is keen to show her support for future Champions in Women’s sport.
The Olympic Games catapulted Nicole Cooke to the forefront of British cycling heroines, she then went on to become the first female cyclist ever to win the Olympic Gold and become World Champion in the same year. A mammoth feat for the young athlete.
Nicole Cooke is an ambassador for the nike campaign hereiam
Now having accomplished such remarkable achievements Nicole is voicing her support for Nike ‘Here I Am’. The campaign is set to challenge the appreciation of women in sport. Nicole feels that the campaign will help others avoid the difficulties she experienced while trying to establish herself in cycling: “ I was the only girl in our cycling club, but it didn’t matter as my brother and I were very lucky to have my parents there encouraging us”
Nicole’s success seems a long way from the limited competition available to her as a young racer: “Years ago there wasn’t even a road race World Championship for women”
“And even in 1998 there was no U16 trust championship for girls. It took a letter from my dad to point this out and now there is an U12, U14 and U16, it shows what can be achieved”
With the momentum growing for the Nike campaign I wondered what Nicole thought had triggered growth in women’s cycling; “With a woman winning the first Olympic gold, rather than a man which it has nearly always been then I feel I can be a role model for other girls and create the spark that gets them into the sport.”
But Nicole was also quick to add that progression in sport ‘takes time’ but of course “all the things I have had to do in my short career so far, I’d like it to have a benefit”
The Nike campaign is an obvious trigger for all women to strive to be a participant in sport but what else does Nicole think is needed to get the end result; “I believe its two things, having the right facitlities and teams with role models to inspire. We need girls and women to say ‘yes’ I want to have a go at that and go out and just do it!”
With her own personal success acknowledged worldwide Nicole was very enthusiastic about the future and what she wants to offer to cycling:
“I can’t go any higher in sport, it would be fantastic to do it all again which is what I will train to do, but what’s the point in keeping that to myself. I want to share it and grow as a team, I think its time to support and give something back”
The Nike campaign is not to be missed, check out what Nicole is supporting at: www.nikehereiam.com
Interview by Laura Hannan
It was my great pleasure this week to join three of the current Women’s England Rugby Team at a Nike photo shoot in London. The occasion is to help to continue the success of Nike campaign ‘Here I Am’.
The campaign is a new initiative developed by Nike to enhance women’s presence in sport at all levels. The new website allows women and girls globally to access each others sporting experience at www.nikehereiam.com, through the narrative of blogs and social networking.
With this in mind I asked England Prop, Katy Story how she felt the campaign was going:
“The campaign is great because it’s promoting the value of women’s sport. Nike is allowing us to look muscular and fit to show the true form of an athlete and it makes you feel proud. “
“The campaign is all about ‘Here I am’, take the opportunity”
Rachel Burford is an ambassador for the nike campaign hereiam
It was very apparent that like many of us women in sport, Katy is all too aware that there is a lack of appreciation for women’s sport;
“There are still massive differences between the men’s game and the women’s game. In Rugby it feels like the old excuses for why this is are gradually being removed and for women’s rugby, it seems like we’re getting recognition now”
Katy was very optimistic about the development of women’s rugby and its future; “I’ve heard that there is the possibility of a New Super League for women. This would mean centralised contracts for players. It would be fantastic because it would mean opportunities for youngsters coming through in this country, they wouldn’t have to go abroad to make a living”
The campaign highlights the worryingly high level of girls dropping out of sport at a young age. The Rugby stars were able to give there perspective, commenting: “I think girls dropping out of sport is usually based on first experiences and if they are made to do a sport they don’t want to do, it puts them off. Give them the opportunity to do a sport that they want to from a young age and it prevents intimidation”.
Obviously there are always some factors that cause some girls to drop out of sport but I wondered if Catherine could suggest what needs to be implemented to improve current figures;
“Unfortunately there is a gap between men and women’s sport but hopefully with the campaign it will get women’s sport out there”
“More coverage creates idols and then more girls will aspire to be like their heroes, it’s really important. The more we do the better it’s going to get”
The campaign is very impressive and I was interested to here whether this was something the girls intended to continue giving their support to, “Definitely want to help to take the campaign forward and raise the profile for women’s sport”
Luckily the girls were also happy to find time to talk about the fantastic news announced last month that the Women’s 2010 Rugby World Cup would be held in London; Katy: “Am chuffed about it, its more pressure but it’s welcomed, we have to improve with every performance now.”
With the tournament not being too far away both Catherine and Katy seemed relatively relaxed about the prospect of playing on home turf;
Katy: “There will be a pressure created from playing at home but it’s really welcomed”
Catherine: “There is pressure but actually we thrive on that, we just want to go out there and enjoy it”
Catherine was enthusiastic about the challenge as Captain, commenting: “There are so many leaders in the team, that it is easy to lead England”. A refreshing attitude to leadership, a sure sign that the team are well cemented and that we can look forward to many more competent performances.
At the last World Cup Katy and Vice Captain Rachel Burford made debuts, Rachel sealing the occasion with a try. Now that both are regular members of the starting line-up can they feel more at ease for the next Tournament; Katy: Definitely, last World Cup there was a lot of pressure. This time I feel more excited about the tournament”
The England Women’s Rugby team has had continued success in the six nations and all this can only increase their confidence as a team. Is this your time to cement the team and work on different tactics? “We have such talented players in the squad that we can play our own game and then in other matches change the strategy to allow others to play with more flare. Every game we’re trying new things and there are a couple of things we are working on that are only going to help in improving our game”
Catherine also highlighted the importance of a winning momentum going into the tournament in 2010; “we want to play well and also win well. It’s important to put in great performances because it increases team confidence”. With the standard of rugby ever increasing there are new threats to England’s future success; Katy; Ireland have improved massively and are definitely a threat. We played them a few weeks ago and although we won they made it a real challenge, it makes you think about the performance a lot more.”
In 2006 England lost out in the Final to New Zealand, it will be interesting to see if the advantage of playing at home will work to their advantage? “Hopefully all the supporters will get behind us and help to make it a fantastic and successful tournament.
The England Women’s Rugby team are an impressive force so be sure to watch their progress leading up to 2010. Their next tournament will be in the Six Nations where they will be looking to continue there winning form. You can also look at the Campaign work they have been doing with Nike at www.nikehereiam.com
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By Mike Valverde