When the BBC failed to nominate a single woman in their 12 candidates to contest the 2011 Sports Personality of the Years Award it was a male chauvinistic oversight that sparked a furious backlash from certain sections of the British public.
Eight months later any suggestion of a similar insult by the Beeb at the end of 2012 is inconceivable after a landmark Olympics for Women in Sport, the working title for the upcoming documentary I began filming earlier this year.
When Jessica Ennis, the poster girl for London 2012, thrilled the nation with a spectacular gold medal winning performance in the heptathlon, it underlined the great strides taken by women on sport’s global stage.
The mere fact that the fairer sex are now challenging the men for the biggest headlines is a source of great joy for the Sheffield-girl , as she clearly demonstrated when I filmed her on Sunday morning. But Ennis is just the tip of the iceberg with a dazzling line-up of female role models inspiring the next generation of young women.
Nicola Adams today fights for the title of the first women’s boxing champion in Olympic history. The mere presence of the Leeds flyweight at the Games – along with Team GB colleagues Natasha Jonas and Savannah Marshall – has already put her in the record books.
Cycling superstar Victoria Pendleton is one of the most popular sports heroes in Britain and her fellow Olympic champion Laura Trott, the exciting breakthrough women’s star at the Velodrome is a remarkable young woman already on course to emulate her childhood inspiration.
But it is not just Britsih girls who are enjoying the spotlight on women in sport. These are the first Games in history where every single country competing have included women in their Olympic team.
Five days after a Saudi Arabian judo athlete became the ultraconservative country’s first female competitor at any Olympics, Sarah Attar was given a standing ovation on Day 12 when she finished last and more than a half-minute slower than her nearest competitor in the women’s 800 meters.
Attar was the first Saudi woman to compete in track and field at the Olympics and the teenager acknowledged the importance of that achievement when she proudly declared: “This is such a huge honor and an amazing experience, just to be representing the women. I know that this can make a huge difference.”