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Sky Sports News investigation finds only three female sporting statues in UK | Athletics News

An investigation by Sky Sports News has revealed that there are only three female sporting statues in the UK

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An investigation by Sky Sports News has revealed that there are only three female sporting statues in the UK

An investigation by Sky Sports News has revealed that there are only three female sporting statues in the UK

There are 240 statues of sportsmen in the UK – but only three are of women sportsmen.

The performances of former England footballer Lily Parr, two-time Wimbledon champion Dorothy Round and Olympic pentathlon champion Dame Mary Peters were recognized. But countless others who have dominated their respective fields — like Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Dame Laura Kenny, and Paula Radcliffe — haven’t. Why is that?

A Sky sports news Research has found that the lack of female statues is due to discrimination within certain sports, the lead of some men’s sports compared to women’s sports, and generating the expense of funding statue sculpture.

The statue expert from The Sporting Statues Projects, Dr. Christopher Stride, said: “It’s a combination of the general discrimination against women in sport over the years and the sports in which they’ve been discriminated against the most and the sports in which you’re more likely to get statues.”

Sky sports news met with the only living female athlete with a statue in the UK.

British gold medalist Dame Mary Peters spoke about her feelings about her 1972 Olympic victory in Munich.

The pentathlon champion said of her victorious summer 50 years ago: “I set four personal best times in the pentathlon across five disciplines.

Mary Peters in the women's pentathlon

Mary Peters in the women’s pentathlon

Dame Mary was honored with a statue in her hometown of Belfast in 2013. Sir Sebastian Coe was present and helped unveil the sculpture.

Statue of Lady Mary Peters on her trail

Statue of Lady Mary Peters on her trail

The statue, overlooking the start of the 100-meter dash at the Mary Peters track, was created with pedestals on either side of the figure.

Although Dame Mary is a specialist in athletics, she recognizes the wealth of talent that can be seen in women’s sports.

“Women’s sport is much more recognized and applauded now… It used to be eight pages in the newspaper and four lines about women’s sport,” she said.

Dame Mary Peters is the only living woman with a sports statue

Dame Mary Peters is the only living woman with a sports statue

“Don’t forget that women are good at sports too; let’s celebrate success and inspire the next generation to play sports.”

Of the three female sports statues, Peters was the only female athlete to be knighted. “The only other known female statue in Belfast is Queen Victoria,” she said.

The Return of Dorothy Round statue was unveiled in 2013 to honor English tennis player Dorothy Round.

Dorothy Round played her British tennis player Betty Nuthall at Wimbledon in 1936

Dorothy Round played her British tennis player Betty Nuthall at Wimbledon in 1936

Round won Wimbledon singles titles in 1934 and 1937 and mixed doubles in 1934 and 1935–36 after teaming up with Fred Perry.

The Black Country woman became the first overseas woman to win the Australian Open Tennis Championships in 1935 and is described by the city’s mayor, Anne Millward, as “A daughter of Dudley”.

Dorothy Round's statue in Dudley

Dorothy Round’s statue in Dudley

The iconic statue is in her hometown of Dudley, Priory Park.

dr Stride said of the reasons for the disparity in the number of male and female sports statues in the UK: “The sports with the most statues are team sports, particularly football. It was in these team sports that women were discriminated against the most years.

Statue of Thierry Henry in front of Emirates Stadium

Thierry Henry’s statue in front of Emirates Stadium

“Compared to individual sports like tennis or athletics, where women have been discriminated against, their involvement in team sports hasn’t declined as much.

“If you look at sports like tennis, half the statues around the world are women. This reflects the fact that in sports where women have competed alongside men in their own tournament, they are celebrated.

A statue depicting a female ice hockey player stands across from the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto (Credit: Nathan Denette)

A statue depicting a female ice hockey player stands across from the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto (Credit: Nathan Denette)

“So where women have the opportunity to play the sport professionally, they’re just as likely to get a statue as men. It’s their discrimination from the sports where they’re more likely to count a statue against themselves.”

The cost of sculpting statues also plays a role. The rate at which funds are raised usually depends on the athlete’s popularity and the generosity of donors.

Dame Mary said she “spent so long raising the money for it [the statue] should be built”.

The Round statue’s designer, Steve Field, narrated Sky sports news: “The budget for this came from the Heritage Lottery Fund and was around £30,000 for this bronze statue in 2013, which would not be enough today as metal costs have since escalated.”

Dudley Mayor Councilor Millward focuses on governing bodies.

“Look at what your district, what your region has produced and be proud of these people and what they have done in your community and access the funding to celebrate them,” she said.

Considered by some to be the pioneer of women’s football, Lily Parr was honored with a statue at the National Football Museum in Manchester.

A statue of Lily Parr

A statue of Lily Parr

With around 1,000 career goals and a key role on the famous Dick, Kerr team in Preston, Parr is considered a trailblazer.

Playing against both male and female teams, Parr was reportedly known for having a harder shot than many male players.

Parr continued playing in the 1920s after the Football Association banned women from playing on their sports fields, and she toured North America with the Dick, Kerr Ladies.

Former Arsenal striker Kelly Smith underscores the importance of statues in increasing curiosity and historical knowledge for the next generation.

“It’s about visibility,” Smith said. “Young girls who see these statues and appreciate what these women have done for their sport can visibly see the statue, walk away and explore the athlete.”

Caroline Noakes, Chair of the Women and Equality Committee, said: “Male sports have far more importance and while it’s not direct discrimination, the reality that women’s sports don’t have the importance they deserve is more like indirect discrimination.

“You have to work for parity. In the same way, I want to see a 50/50 parliament, I want 50 percent of our statues to recognize women’s athletic achievements.”

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