Every Olympic Games has its legacy. And it’s already becoming clear what part London 2012 will play in history, if it wasn’t before now. For this year, for the first time, every country has had to field a team of male and female athletes.
The IOC has worked hard to make this happen, in particular, to bring female competitors from Bahrain and Qatar, as well as Saudi Arabia, where girls aren’t even allowed to do PE at school. And when sixteen-year-old Wojdan Shaherkani stepped out onto a judo mat yesterday, she was making history as a fighter in both senses of the word. I take my hat off to her. Let’s hope this is just the beginning of her Olympic career.
Women played an important part of the Opening Ceremony too. From the storytelling charms of JK Rowling which resulted in a flurry of dancing nurses and Mary Poppins characters falling from the sky, through to the actual relatives of British suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst marching through our green and pleasant land – sisters were doing it big time.
And this week, Team GB's gold medal haul was kicked off by two female rowers – one of whom only started rowing four years ago after she responded to an ad by Sir Steve Redgrave looking for tall ladies, following our success in Beijing. And then there were more medals and more women on the podium. From judo to swimming, equestrian* to cycling, our girls have been on top.
And tonight, Jess Ennis has won gold in the heptathlon. UN-BE-LIEVE-ABLE. Only earlier this year we saying how much girls are put off PE at school. Well it’s a nonsense now. If we haven’t inspired a generation with these games, then we may as well pull down the bunting and pack up shop. It's no wonder the Spice Girls are rumoured to be performing at the Closing Ceremony. Go on ladies, let’s see what else we can do this week.
*minus one fella.