As a Dad, my thoughts about the SPOTY are that I am delighted that the shortlist of personalities includes a range of men, women, both Olympians and paralympians as well as golf! How do you choose a winner in a year when there have been so many personalities? Given this is an Olympic year, I think it is important to remember the fundamental message of the games is to inspire a generation. All these fine athletes deserve to be nominated, they all great examples that if we work hard at something, we can achieve our own goals.
When we have nominated our winner, I hope that we all remember what a great sporting year 2012 has been and that we pass that message onto the younger generation. As the founder of Little Champ
and a father to a little girl, I want sport to be a fundamental part of the lives of this generation from day one. In anticipation of the Olympics, I was inspired to set up a business selling sports themed toys for babies so families can enjoy sport from day one of a baby's life. I hope every parent who watched the Olympics this summer is inspired to remind their children of the many values that sport offers. I hope 2012 is a golden generation.
As a mother to sons, it is equally as important to me that women are represented in the SPOTY. In a media dominated by coverage of male sports, and where we hear language such as "he plays like a girl" used by grown men on BBC radio (5Live
), the need to educate my sons about the capabilities of women, the diversity of women and the strength and commitment of women who take part in sport, is paramount if they are to grow up understanding and valuing the many and varied women they will encounter during their lives.
As girls are sugared in pink prettiness, their chances to believe that they can be something different are taken away from them. Similarly, If we do not represent women in events such as SPOTY then we deny girls the belief that they can achieve physical feats and we deny them role models. You cannot be what you cannot see. In doing so, we also send these damaging messages to boys... the husbands, colleagues, friends and fathers of the future.
So this year, instead of boycotting SPOTY in disgust, I will watch with joy, along with my sons and husband, as inspirational athlete Ellie Simmonds
takes to the stage with superstar Bradley Wiggins ... and as Nicola Adams
boxes her way into the record books whilst cheering on Mo Farah
as he crosses the line first ... this year, we can ALL celebrate.
As a woman who's spent a great deal of her life being told what is and what isn't acceptable for a girl to do, I was ecstatic to see that 5 out of the 12 nominees were women. These are five Olympinians and Paralympians who have no doubt at times been told women don't do sports.
Nicola Adams was training for years before LOCOG decided to include women's boxing as part of the Olympics this year. Jessica Ennis
honed her craft over years before taking the gold in Heptathlon. Katherine Grainger
is not only an Olympian but is also studying Homicide for a PhD at King's College, University of London. Ellie Simmonds has 2 Olympics medals and 5 world records to her name. Sarah Storey
's Paralympics career spans two decades and two different disciplines.
These are five extraordinary athletes who happen to be women. I may not be as talented as them at what they do but I will never again believe someone who tells me I can't do anything just because of the gender I was born as.
I hope that young girls growing up now thinking they don't fit in will be able to look at these extraordinary women and find the strength they need to get through the tough times and stay true to themselves.
One can but hope this will be followed up by more coverage of women's sport on their channels.
We are ending this special year with a celebration of sport which we can all enjoy and all be proud of. But we have a long way to go. This year is exceptional because of the success of our Olympic athletes and with the games having been so spectacular. It's a fitting tribute to the athletes (and a relief) that the BBC has selected a diverse field of nominees.
But for women's sport and for its future we mustn't rest on this as a 'problem solved'. As Clare Balding
so eloquently put it on a recent edition of the Today programme
on Radio 4, we must get women's sport the coverage it needs and deserves in order to really give our daughters a fighting chance of becoming more involved in, and inspired by sport. That doesn't just mean becoming a gold medallist, but it could mean belonging to a local team, being fit and healthy, and enjoying sport without the fear of being ridiculed for doing so.
With a media which is so obsessed with celebrity culture I lost count of the times I've heard sports women being referred to in terms of their looks and not for their talent, hard work and commitment. 'Pin up girl', 'cover girl' etc. not 'amazing woman athlete', a fate which Jessica Ennis
for one is no stranger to
I want my daughters - who are approaching the age where suddenly what they look like will become far more important to them and those around them - to at least be aware of the range of sport available to them; to see women of all types being fulfilled by their participation in sport; to witness women's sport being given the respect it deserves; and to have heroes in sport who are celebrated for their efforts and not their looks.
I can't wait to enjoy SPOTY with them this year. But we must continue to fight hard to ensure that the legacy of the Games is one which is not short lived.