Clare Balding has been a regular fixture on the sports scene since the early ‘90s. She’s a former amateur jockey, and she’s one of the few out lesbians in British television. Her coverage of the 2012 Olympics drew rave reviews, and won her a prestigious contract as the face of Channel 4’s racing coverage as well as the Paralympics coverage starting next week over on the BBC.
But it hasn’t all been a feminist Balding lovefest in the British media.
In the aftermath of the Olympics, ending as it did with a whimper rather than a bang thanks to Friday’s disappointing closing ceremonies, the impact of the past two weeks is only just starting to sink in. It marked a number of firsts for women, including the first women from Saudi Arabia to participate in the Games, and the first female boxers to compete for an Olympic medal.
I used to live in a neighborhood boasting several martial-arts schools, and always liked walking by at night to see them all lit up and peopled with serious-looking little girls and boys in their crisp white gis. But it wasn’t until recently that I heard about the woman who was partially responsible for making sure that girls got an equal shake in martial-arts training and competition. Rusty Kanokogi, who died in November, 2009 at the age of 74, was the first woman to earn a seventh-degree black belt in judo. But perhaps more important, she was a pioneer in making the sport accessible to women in a time before Title IX.
Oh hai. So it's been a while since the last installment of I Can Has Feminizm?, but fear not: Feminizt LOLz r bak. And just in time for the sporting event of the season! (You knew that cats love the Winter Olympics, right?)
Where to even begin with Dana Vollmer? Not only is she one of the best swimmers in the world, she's been in the elite ranks since she was a pre-teen. That's right: Vollmer was 12 (!) when she competed in the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials. The Texas native failed to make the team that year but, as usual, she moved fast: she won a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics as part of the 4x200 freestyle relay team that broke a world record that had stood for seventeen years.It is not, however, all smooth sailing (smooth swimming?) for Vollmer. In 2003--the year before she would win her gold medal--Vollmer had heart surgery for a medical condition that nearly kept her out of the pool for good.