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International Women's Day with UKA – Wendy Sly

Category: testimonial, Women in athletics, UK Athletics, Careers in sport, International Women’s Day, Staff Testimonial, Athletics, athletes, sportswomen, British Athletics, UKA, disability in sport, athletic, LGBT in Sports, Sport Science, Senior Women, Inclusive Sport, Diverse Sport, Mental Health in Sport, Para Athletics, Athletics background, Sporting history, Women in sports, Female Athletes, International Women’s Day 2022

Gender Focus

On the 8th March, it was International Women’s Day, and to celebrate, our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion advocates at UKA have spoken to several stakeholders in the sport about this year’s theme, #BreakTheBias.

The theme for this year is encouraging people to think about what they can do to do create a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive. Where difference is valued and celebrated to forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias. More information can be found here.

From Tuesday, we have been showcasing stories from across the sport. Today we hear from Olympic silver medallist and current Non-Executive Director on the UKA Board, Wendy Sly.

Role(s) / involvement in athletes (now and in the past):

I am currently a Non-Executive Director on the UKA board and Managing Director of Athletics Weekly. Previously an international (cross-country, road and track) runner, silver medallist at the Commonwealth and Olympics Games, Gold at the World Race Running Championships and Bronze European Indoor medallist.

Have you experienced bias during your time in the sport?

Yes, running in track meets in the 1980’s the distance events that were put on were mainly for the men and most of the appearance money also went to the men. This made domestic (in particular) opportunities to compete at a decent level and at the bigger events quite hard to find.

How have you dealt with this / how do you ‘Break the Bias’?

I went to America and ran on the roads. That way I could make enough money to fund my track season. I then became one of the first full time female athletes in the UK. Training full time allowed me the time to rest and recover between sessions

Which female(s) inspire you?

Lillian Board and Greta Waitz

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

I think as a female athlete who grew up in an era where women weren’t allowed to run the same distances at championships as the men, and certainly weren’t offered the same opportunities, it shows how far we’ve come.

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