Who is Your Role Model?
I watched Rachael Blackmore become the first female to win the Grand National on Saturday afternoon, a piece of sporting history and an athlete cement her place as a role model.
It got me thinking.
I remember seeing pictures and footage of Scotland Men at the football World Cup in 1998. I remember seeing my Dad’s pictures and him talking about Paul Lawrie winning The Open at Carnoustie in 1999. I remember watching Sir Steve Redgrave win his 5th consecutive gold medal at the 2000 Olympics. I remember going to Pittodrie to support Aberdeen football club. I remember Craig Mclean and Chris Hoy winning Silver at the 2000 Olympics. I remember Sir Alex Ferguson dominating the Premier League managing Manchester United. I watched Grandstand on BBC Sport. I watched Ski Sunday every weekend in the Winter. I watched Transworld Sport on Channel 4. I watched Match of The Day on a Saturday night. I got a glimpse of Tiger Woods winning his first Open at St Andrews on the television in the clubhouse at Durness Golf Club in 2000. The buzz of our family getting sky television in 2002 just to watch the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Born in 1993 I wasn’t all that old.
Where’s the female role models there? I never saw them, I never experienced what they could do so unfortunately I don’t have much recollection of what happened in the female sporting world when I was a kid. I can’t remember the first time I saw female sport. I’ve had to think hard to even try and recollect watching female sport. Was it Lesley Mckenna snowboarding at the 2002 Olympics? Was it Rhona Martin and her team winning Curling Gold at the same Olympics? Was it Kelly Holmes winning two golds at The Athens Olympics in 2004. Or was it simply Hazel Irvine and Sue Barker presenting sport coverage? I’m not sure but was all the female sport I saw generally around the Olympics?
I was fixated by sport. Had skis on my feet at 18 months old. Picked up my first golf club at 6 years old at the par 3 course at Aberdeen’s beach front. I attended Aberdeen football club football camps every holidays from when I can remember, moving to The Ross County sessions when we moved to the Highlands. A tennis racket in my hand when I could get my hand around the grip. I rode a bike from the moment I could balance. I’m fortunate to have been given all these opportunities and I think it’s definitely led to where I am now. Thank you so much Mum and Dad.
You might not necessarily know who your role model is, until someone asks you. Who has been your role model in life? For me, quite simply, my parents; for igniting my interest in sport and allowing me the opportunity to excel.
Maybe it’s no surprise growing up all I wanted to do was play sport or be a professional athlete of some form. I had been subconsciously inspired by so many, I saw what they did and wanted to do the same. However, another role model rowed into my life at the age of 8.
On the 18th of February 2002 I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I lay in the hospital bed in Inverness wondering what was next, clueless on the journey ahead. I thought my sporting days were over before they had really begun. Until, my parents used google and to punch in the words ‘Diabetic sports people’, up popped Sir Steve Redgrave. He had won Olympic Gold with Diabetes. That was it. Hero status. My new and significant role model. I mumbled to my parents with a smile on my face; ‘he’s my twin’. From that moment, diabetes wasn’t stopping me, in fact it was just igniting that fire within my belly to try even harder.
However, as I am growing older, and the world of sport and media is ever changing, we are being shown the exploits of more and more female athletes. The role models for generations to come. Of course, this is very exciting.
Fortunately the coverage is increasing, day by day, week by week, year by year.
We have more and more female presenters and broadcasters covering each and every sport. Golf’s first major of the year The ANA Invitational had 4 days of live Sky Sports Coverage, yes on YouTube for some of it, but that’s a start. The Women’s six nations rugby is on BBC iplayer, yes it’s iPlayer, but again, that’s a start right? The English Women’s Super League have just signed a deal for 3 years with BBC and Sky Sports worth £7-8million per season. Scottish Women’s football is featuring on BBC Alba. The Women’s boat race had the same coverage as the Men’s live on the BBC. That’s just to name a few more pieces of live female sporting action for the world to see, for role models to be created, and for the next generation to be inspired.
If we see them, we can believe to follow them.
Maybe I could be that female athlete, the diabetic one, that kids might look up to and be inspired by. If I could have that effect on just one kid I’d be over the moon.
Maybe I could be someone else’s Sir Steve Redgrave?