Sky Sports News investigation finds only three female sports statues in the UK | athletics news

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An investigation by Sky Sports News found that there are only three female sports statues in the UK

An investigation by Sky Sports News found that there are only three female sports statues in the UK

There are 240 statues of sportsmen in the UK, but only three are of female athletes.

The achievements of former English footballer Lily Parr, two-time Wimbledon champion Dorothy Round and Olympic pentathlon winner Lady Mary Peters have all been recognised. But many others who have dominated their respective fields, such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Dame Laura Kenny, and Paula Radcliffe, have not. Why is that?

A Sky sports news Research has found that the lack of female statues can be attributed to discrimination within specific sports, the advantage some male sports have had compared to female ones, and generating the cost to finance the sculpture of the statue.

The Sporting Statues Projects statue expert Dr Christopher Stride said: “It’s a combination of the general discrimination against women in sports over the years and the types of sports in which they have been most discriminated against. and the kinds of sports you’re most likely to get statues in.”

Sky sports news met the only living female sports athlete with a statue in the UK.

British gold medalist Lady Mary Peters spoke about her feelings about achieving her Olympic triumph in Munich 1972.

The pentathlon champion said of her victorious summer 50 years ago: “I made four personal bests in the pentathlon, which has five events. I don’t know why I despaired.”

Mary Peters competing in the women's pentathlon

Mary Peters competing in the women’s pentathlon

Lady Mary was honored with a statue in her hometown of Belfast in 2013. Sir Sebastian Coe was in attendance and helped unveil the sculpture.

Statue of Lady Mary Peters on her track

Statue of Lady Mary Peters on her track

Overlooking the start of the 100 meter race at the Mary Peters track, the statue was created with podiums on either side of the figure.

Although she is a specialist in athletics, Lady Mary recognizes the abundance of talent on display in women’s sport.

“Women’s sport is much better noticed and applauded now… It used to be eight pages in the newspaper and four lines about women’s sport,” she said.

Lady Mary Peters is the only living woman with a sports statue

Lady Mary Peters is the only living woman with a sports statue

“Don’t forget that women are good at sports too, let’s honor success and inspire the next generation to play sports.”

Of the three female sports statues, Peters was the only sportswoman knighted. “The only other known female statue in Belfast is Queen Victoria,” she said.

The Return of Dorothy Round statue was unveiled in 2013 in honor of English tennis player Dorothy Round.

Dorothy Round playing fellow British tennis player Betty Nuthall at Wimbledon in 1936

Dorothy Round playing fellow British tennis player Betty Nuthall at Wimbledon in 1936

Round won Wimbledon singles titles in 1934 and 1937, and mixed doubles in 1934 and 1935/36 after teaming with Fred Perry.

The Black Country native was the first woman from abroad to win the Australian Open Tennis Championships in 1935 and is called “A daughter of Dudley” by the city’s mayor, Anne Millward.

Dorothy Round statue in Dudley

Dorothy Round statue in Dudley

The iconic statue can be found in his hometown of Dudley, Priory Park.

Dr Stride said of the reasons for the disparity in the number of male and female sports statues in the UK: “The sports that have the most statues are team sports, particularly football. In these team sports, women they have suffered the most discrimination for years.

The Thierry Henry statue outside the Emirates Stadium

The Thierry Henry statue outside the Emirates Stadium

“Compared to individual sports like tennis or athletics, where women have been discriminated against, it is not to the extent that their participation in team sports has decreased.

“Looking at sports like tennis, around the world half of the statues are of women. Which reflects the fact that in sports where women have competed in their own tournament alongside men, they are celebrated.

A statue depicting a female hockey player stands in front of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto (Credit: Nathan Denette)

A statue depicting a female hockey player stands in front of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto (Credit: Nathan Denette)

“So when women get a chance to play the sport professionally, they’re just as likely to get a statue as men, it’s their discrimination of sports where they’re more likely to get a statue against.”

The cost of sculpting statues is also a contributing factor. The rate at which funds are raised tends to depend on the popularity of the athlete and the generosity of donors.

Lady Mary said she “spent so much time raising the money [the statue] to be built.”

The designer of the round statue, Steve Field, said Sky sports news: “The budget for this came from the Heritage Lottery Fund and was around £30,000 to make this bronze statue in 2013, which wouldn’t be enough today because the cost of metal has skyrocketed ever since.”

Dudley’s Mayor, Councilor Millward, focuses on the governing bodies.

“Look at what your county has produced, what your area has produced and be proud of those people and what they’ve done within your community, and access the funds to celebrate them,” he said.

Considered by some to be the pioneer of women’s football, Lily Parr was honored with a statue at the National Football Museum in Manchester.

A statue of Lily Parr

A statue of Lily Parr

With around 1,000 career goals and an integral part of the famed Dick, Kerr team at Preston, Parr is considered a trailblazer.

Parr played against both men’s and women’s teams and reputedly had a harder shot than many male players.

Parr continued to play into the 1920s after the Football Association banned women from playing on its sports fields, and toured North America with the Dick, Kerr Ladies.

Former Arsenal striker Kelly Smith echoes the importance of statues in increasing the curiosity and historical knowledge of the next generation.

“It’s about visibility,” Smith said. “The young women who see these statues and appreciate what these women have done for their sports, they can visibly see the statue, go and investigate the athlete.”

Caroline Noakes, chair of the Women and Equality committee, said: “Men’s sports have had much more prominence, and although it’s not direct discrimination, the reality is that it is very indirect discrimination that women’s sports have not had the prominence that deserve.

“We have to work for parity. In the same way that I want to see a 50/50 parliament, I want to see 50 percent of our statues recognizing female sporting achievements.”

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