When did you first gain an interest in sport and what made you decide to become a sports writer?
As the youngest of three children and the only girl, I was subjected to a lot of football in my early years, but other than a passing interest in the woes of Charlton Athletic, I had little interest in sport until the 2012 Olympics. It was a really special time to be in London and I found myself so inspired by the athletes and the spirit around the games that I decided to take on this challenge of trying all the Olympic Disciplines and writing a blog about it. The blog did quite well and when it was over I didn't want to leave this new world I'd discovered behind, so I decided to leave my job in the Civil Service and give writing a go as a job.
Through your writing and podcasting with Standard Issue, you've shed a wealth of light on the world of women's sports, a topic that takes up just 7% of all sports media coverage in the UK. What have been your highlights and what is your view on the current state of coverage of women's sports in the UK media?
The Olympics are an obvious choice, not just because of my own interest in them, but because it's one of the rare events where women's sport gets the same platform as men's sport. It also gives you an opportunity to watch a really diverse range of sports including sports which I think are chronically under-funded at an elite level in the UK, like basketball and handball, which wouldn't ordinarily get much coverage here. It's great to think that a young girl might be inspired by a professional basketball player from the WNBA, for example, and go out and give it a go. I also think that Channel 4's coverage of the Women's Euros last year was fantastic and really proved the market for women's sports really does exist.
The current state of coverage of women's sport in the UK is dire. 7% just isn't enough, and it's so important to have that coverage in order to inspire more girls to play, widening the talent pool and developing the elite side of women's sport. But at grassroots level, it's also hugely important. If you can't see it you can't be it, and the absence of any women at all from the recent Forbes Sports rich list proves that women are still not being welcomed into this world by the industry. This isn't about "we got the vote now we want to go mountain biking" it's about inspiring young people not just to pursue careers in sport but to improve their health by being active and the latter point makes this an issue that to my mind, politicians and policymakers should be far more interested in.
It's great to see the way Sky Sports and the BBC, for example, have upped their game in terms of women's sport coverage, but the industry now has to find a way to make it relevant and appealing to women to make them feel like this is a world they belong in, as well as men.