Gemma Styles: Let's Hear It For The Girls Of The Rio Olympics
Gemma's got Olympic fever.
Come on then, who's got Olympic fever? It's definitely not just me. Now, usually (in fact basically any time outside of the Olympic calendar... or maybe a Wimbledon final or something) I couldn't give two hoots about watching televised sport, but there's something about the five hoops of glory that suck you in.
With so many different sports on offer, it's not sitting through hour after hour of the same thing (hello World Cup football) - to be honest I just don't have that kind of attention span when I'm not actively interested - there's enough variety to keep my wandering, millennial mind entertained. It's so exciting! My boyfriend has so far been quite baffled as to how I'm so surprised when people jump super high etc etc - that's what they do for a living, after all - but I only watch it one in four years so I kind of forget how amazing it all is.
One of my favourites to watch is the gymnastics. I essentially like the parts where I watch the telly and start shouting BUT HOW CAN A HUMAN DO THIS?! Good example being Ethiopia's Almaz Ayana who absolutely smashed the 10000m world record on Friday - now I know nothing about distance running, or any kind of running really, but seeing someone run so far, so fast and then start speeding up?
You can't talk about gymnastics of course without bringing up USA's Simone Biles, whose signature move, 'the Biles', seems to actually defy physics and there have also been amazing performances from Katie Ledecky in the pool. All in all as far as I can see - the women are just smashing it this year so far.
Sadly, as usual when women do well, they've found themselves in additional competition with some pretty sexist media coverage. Biles in particular has been quoted in reminding people that she is not in fact the next Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt... but "the first Simone Biles". Katie Ledecky as well has been described as "the female Michael Phelps". There's not really any need for this - I'm sure in most cases it is intended as a complimentary comparison to existing sporting legends - but it's an unnecessary habit that we could do with weeding out.
Aside from the habitual sexism there have been more blatant cases; Corey Cogdell-Unrein, who won a bronze medal in shooting, was described in a tweet from the Chicago Tribune as "wife of a Bears' linesman". So she's married to a sportsman. Did he do the shooting? No. Is it relevant? Not really. Is his sporting prowess so much more important than hers that we don't even bother with her name? NO. YOU DUMMIES. It's a great example of how shockingly backwards some of the media can be. #2016.
There are so many incredible female role models in this Olympics and I think it's important to keep a focus on the YAAAS moments, while learning from the silly mistakes of us mere mortal observers. I'm enjoying the supportive commentary while watching Jessica Ennis-Hill; they're talking about her form in recent years and celebrating with her as she celebrates what she herself calls "PPPBs" (Post Pregnancy Personal Bests) - not from a standpoint of 'getting her figure back' or fitting in training around 'being a mum' but just from appreciating the human, individual markers and goals she's shared as part of her story. From family histories and triumphs to personal challenges, even if you're not interested in sport much there are plenty of remarkable sights to soak in during these games.