There are many things we’ve learnt in the time we’ve been reporting on women’s sport and while we think we have done a pretty good job of it (we certainly do our best), one thing is definitely clear – sports reporting is really hard and requires real skill!
The difficulties of learning new and apparently complicated rules for sports that we’re not familiar with has been commented on before, like our first trip to the Bristol Roller Derby. Our aim to cover breadth of sports is not the easiest approach – and one that Alex Rotas pointed out when interviewed about her book Growing Old Competitively. Rotas has decided to focus on just one (in her case, track and field athletics, a sport that she also partakes in).
I decided to cover the Otley Women’s GP for an ‘away post’. My excuse for going outside of the Bristol area to Yorkshire being that Otley is my home town, cycling is my particular passion, the amazing Lizzie Armitstead was racing on her home turf and, well, let’s be honest, it ties in with my Tour de France fever! However, the foray into cycling reporting has brought home the difficulties of reporting well on sport.
Ha, my optimism that I could do this action justice! The Otley Women’s GP is a traditional town centre race or criterium with around 60 women powering their way around a 2.5km course of precarious bends paired with sharp inclines and fast downhills. Great cycling action to watch but in terms of relaying the action, without looking at other sources of reports, I am entirely unable to manage anything but the following basic facts:
- By lap 4 Lizzie Armitstead, who had started in the middle of the pack had pulled slightly ahead
- By lap 5 Lizzie Armitstead had been joined by Dame Sarah Storey ahead of the main pack
- At some point around lap 6/7 there was clearly an accident that resulted in significant damage to an already very strung out remaining peloton
- But no impact on Lizzie and Sarah! Armitstead continued to sit on Storey’s wheel until the start of the final (12th) lap where she pulled off, up an incline and romped home the final lap to big cheers
- The chasing pack came in some minutes later and gave the crowd an exciting bunch sprint finish (but due to a slightly dodgy PA I did not catch who got the 3rd place)
As commentary goes, it’s not great is it.
So I just want to offer a big salute to all those out there who are making the great effort to report on sport, especially women’s sport where so many are doing it for free, for love of the sport, and to bring it to the attention of a wider audience.
In women’s cycling in particular I would really like to flag up the astounding efforts of Sarah Connolly – who you can follow @_pigeons_ and at the fab Unofficial Unsanctioned UCI Women’s Cycling Blog http://prowomenscycling.com/about/ – weekly podcasts are particularly recommended. If you can watch a women’s race live or in highlights this woman will know about it!
Also doing an excellent job are @onthedrops providing the Neutral Service to report on women’s cycling generally, as well as the Matrix Vulpine team. Their much better report on Lizzie’s Wednesday night victory can be found here: http://www.onthedrops.cc/lizzie-wins-in-otley/