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sport watch, sporting role models

Elsa Hammond, rowing 2,400 miles across the Pacific Ocean

Elsa-Hammond-RowerBristol University student, Elsa Hammond, is currently on Day 36 of her solo rowing adventure across the Pacific Ocean. Yes, that’s right – alone and unsupported in a boat, rowing across the Pacific Ocean! In case you weren’t sure what such a journey entails, we can tell you that it means crossing 2,400 miles of open water.

As you might expect, the journey so far hasn’t been easy – Elsa has had to contend with strong winds blowing her off course, cold weather, and sickness. She’s also passing through busy shipping areas and having to stay alert to what lies ahead. Every moment is one of hard-work and dedication. An inspiring story, no doubt. You can read daily logs from the boat by visiting Elsa’s blog (you can also make comments and offer your support).

Before Elsa set off, she kindly found the time to answer a few questions for Sport Watch.

Q. Tell us a bit about yourself and your sporting achievements

Eclectic adventurer with a passion for trying out new things. From pole vaulting, to unicycling across England, to trekking in the remote jungles of Borneo, this year will see me face my biggest challenge yet: rowing 2,400 miles across the Pacific Ocean, alone. I’m dedicating the challenge to inspirational women across the world – each mile dedicated to a different woman. Check out my website to choose a mile to dedicate, and celebrate an inspirational woman in your life: http://www.2400women.com

Q. Who are your sporting role models?

Ellen MacArthur, Sarah Outen, Jessica Ennis-Hill.

Q. What would you say has contributed most to your success?

An enthusiasm for trying new things, and the inability to let go of my dreams.

Q. Was there ever a time when you almost gave up and, if so, what made you keep going?

One of the things that keeps me going is remembering how long I’ve wanted this, and how much I’d regret it if I did give up. I also think about all the people who have helped and supported me along the way, and remember that I also owe it to them to complete what I set out to do.

Q. Tell us your most embarrassing sporting story.

In my first year at university I had just learnt to row, and was rowing for my college in an eight (eight rowers and one cox). We were competing in an inter-collegiate competition, and had just finished our race. We were next to the pontoon, and had started getting our oars in, ready to get out of the boat. Unfortunately, we made the huge mistake of taking in both oars, so there was nothing to stop the boat tipping outwards…which it did. Nine of us ended up in the freezing cold river in November, with every other competitor in the university watching us! We never made that mistake again.

Q. What more do your think could be done to encourage girls and women to participate in sport?

This is a problem very close to my heart. I remember the time when, suddenly, it was ‘uncool’ to actually try in races on sports day if you were a girl – suddenly it was only for boys. I think female sporting role models are very important – people who show women and girls that sport isn’t something just for men. I particularly think it is important to have all sorts of female role models in sport, so a greater variety of women can relate to them.

Much more needs to be done for women already in sport, or going into sport, in terms of funding and coverage though. Far too many women are forced to give up due to lack of sponsorship and funding – funding that is often available to men in the same sport. More TV coverage of women’s sport would help secure more funding, and it would also do more to normalise sport for women. We are too used to seeing sport played solely by men.

As well as this, I think that women who are doing well in sport (and who could be considered role models) have a responsibility to visit schools and sports clubs, to talk to young people, and to share their own experiences.

***

You can sponsor Elsa by making a donation towards a mile of her incredible adventure. For each mile, Elsa is asking for a dedication to an inspirational woman. You can read about the inspiring women who have supported Elsa’s journey so far on her website.

Also remember to follow Elsa’s progress on her blog where you can post comments and messages of support.

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