With just over two months until London 2012, it’s been exciting to witness the build up to the games unfold in the media. At the start of the year there was a gorgeous photoshoot and interview with Philip Idowu in ES magazine. In April, The Sunday Telegraph published a DPS entitled ‘East Side Stories’ profiling the young talent who they predicted would shine at the games including 23-year-old 400M hurdler Perri Shakes-Drayton, 800M runner Marilyn Okoru, 17-year-old weightlifter Zoe Smith and 16-year-old judo player, Hayley Willis. It’s been particularly refreshing to see sport covered in the women’s consumer mag market, a sector that has traditionally ignored women in sport.
At the beginning of the year Marie Claire featured Jessica Ennis on their much coveted cover spot. A few weeks later Stylist released a fitness related issue where the editorial team set themselves various sporting challenges. Zest magazine also recently featured Jessica Ennis on their front cover as well as interviews with a host of female athletes talking about everything from their dieting tips to beauty secrets. Stylist revisited women in sport once again a few weeks ago, featuring female footballer on the cover Rachel Yankey, and unveiling a new initiative called ‘Fair Game’ which aims to fight for equal sponsorship, funding and awareness in women’s sports. It’s as if the UK has finally received the memo that female sporting stars can be seen as marketable, admirable and yes, sexy. Just look at their omnipresence for proof. Girl of the moment, Perri Shakes-Drayton is the face of Nike, 100m sprinter Jeanette Kwakye features in the marketing campaign for soap powder Ariel, and Jessica Ennis (who is obviously seen by many as the poster girl for LDN 2012) is the face of Olay Essentials. These are just a few examples.
I’m really hoping that this will be a mainstay in women’s mags after the Olympic hype wears off. Glossies have the power to generate such positive change in the way sport is perceived by young women. It’s funny, because just last week a colleague and I were discussing our own relationship with sport. She, unbeknown to me, excelled in running when she was in her early teens and even competed in a few county meets. I can’t really say my journey mirrored hers, but I also loved sports as a child/pre-pubescent teen. When we both compared our reasons for dropping our sporting hobbies, it was the same old cliche excuses: boys, peer pressure (it was deemed uncool to care about sports) and thus, a general loss of interest. Just think how different it would’ve been had sports featured as heavily as lipgloss, boyband members and fashion in our favourite teen mags? Just a thought.
For the next issue of Blackhair we will also be putting together a special sporting issue to coincide with London 2012 and it’s the issue I’ve been most looking forward to all year. Since giving birth to my son, my interest in sports has returned due to me relentlessly seeking alternative ways to get fit other than the gym which I find a bit of a chore. In 2006 I founded a netball club called Siyanda which reignited my passion for the game. Sadly I had to leave in 2010 when I landed the Editor position at Blackhair due to the training times conflicting with my working hours. But I loved it. Not only was it a fun way to get fit, it also renewed my competitive spirit, helped me to become really disciplined and led to a tight bond with my fellow teammates which extended beyond the netball court. Since leaving the fold I’ve put on over a stone in weight and now really desperate to shed it. I also find it’s true what they say about physical activity – it really does release those feel-good chemicals in the brain. Netball was my stress reliever. When I was under pressure from work and life itself, I’d find an hour on the court, working up a sweat and laughing uncontrollably about something one of the girls had done/said, worked wonders. I need a replacement. And fast. Today I signed up for Race for Life which is a sponsored 5K run to raise money for cancer. For the last few months I’ve been running on and off and it may be the replacement I’m looking for, who knows. For now I’m hoping that Team GB will inspire me to fight fit come July.
On another note, if you didn’t get tickets for the Olympics like most of us, take solace in the forthcoming Aviva London Grand Prix taking place on July 13th and 14th. The track meet tends to attract quite a few big names and at a purse friendly £22 is quite the steal. Click here for further deets: