Sam Quek was a part of the Nice Britain girls’s hockey workforce that received gold on the Rio Olympics in 2016. Right here she talks concerning the challenges that ladies face within the media’s portrayal of feminine athletes on and off the sector.
Identify: Sam Quek. Age: 27. Occupation: Swimwear mannequin.
Are you kidding me?
My companion collected all of the newspapers from after we have been out in Rio on the Olympics. Each bit wherein the hockey ladies have been talked about, he’d reduce it out. Earlier than the ultimate, one paper did a bio on every participant: title, age, occupation.
Folks had ‘physician of diet’, ‘full-time PHD pupil’ or ‘coaching to be a solicitor’. I obtained all the way down to mine and it was ‘Sam Quek: swimwear mannequin’. Then it had a background of my different half, who owns a property firm.
I felt it painted an image that I had no schooling – like I used to be a little bit of a no-one. ‘She’s a swimwear mannequin, so let’s speak about her different half.’
I did one shoot earlier than the Olympics about celebrating the feminine physique. I believed it was nice: it ticked bins of being elegant, being sporty – nevertheless it was additionally glamorous.
However while you searched my title it was the primary correct image that got here up. I am not a swimwear mannequin, however you’ve got seen one image and determined to latch on to that?
Why not the truth that I’ve obtained a level? Or that I obtained my first worldwide hockey cap after I was 18? Even that I would missed out on the Video games in Beijing and London and was preventing for gold in Rio?
‘Sweat in our eyes and spit in our faces’
The drop-out price for younger ladies in sport is very large, particularly across the age of 15. There was a notion – and I believe it nonetheless exists – that you simply’re both sporty, otherwise you’re not. I’ve at all times laboured the purpose that you would be able to be each.
Earlier than the GB hockey ladies left to get on the bus for our matches, we might spend time preparing. We might have our hair completed. We might placed on make-up as a result of, yeah, we needed to look good. We have been representing ourselves and our workforce, and one another. However as quickly as we crossed that line we had sweat in our eyes, spit in our faces, and it was win in any respect prices.
Ladies do not should be labelled ‘sporty’. Or ‘glamorous’. You will be each, and it is essential for children to recognise that.
‘To achieve success, do I’ve to get my equipment off? No’
I am very acutely aware that I do not need to be sexualised. Once I was looking for an agent, one instantly began chatting with me about underwear offers. I believed, ‘you haven’t any concept’.
To achieve success as a feminine sportsperson, do you must get your equipment off? No.
You will not see me doing an underwear shoot. I am very prudish. Probably, girls do really feel pressured to do these kind of shoots to be seen and to be heard, however you will not see male athletes doing them as typically.
As feminine athletes, we’re so used to toeing the road that you do not come out and say one thing in opposition to it for worry of being judged. If we ever did, there could be much more consideration than there could be on a male athlete.
‘Variations off the pitch, world beaters on it’
However it’s not nearly look. Feminine athletes ought to be allowed to have and present their persona too, slightly than mixing into the mould of what the media really feel they ‘ought to’ be.
I am a agency believer that if you are going to improve participation in girls’s sport, you want characters to observe. If somebody has a powerful opinion, allow them to have that opinion, and allow them to again it up.
I believe it is wholesome to problem one another as a result of when you’ve got everyone agreeing on a regular basis, I do not essentially suppose you will get the perfect out of individuals.
That is why I felt compelled to speak concerning the disagreements that occurred within the gold-winning GB workforce in my autobiography Hope and a Hockey Stick. Typically persons are scared to say they did not get on with somebody, and everybody has to say ‘we’re all greatest mates’. Males are far more open about that.
The quantity of footballers I’ve spoken to the place it is identified publicly that, in a single workforce, X did not get on with Y – however on the pitch they have been world beaters collectively. They’d know the place one another would run and when to go the ball. It is a massive distinction, I really feel, between female and male sport.
My story shouldn’t be certainly one of continued success, it’s certainly one of persistence and hope that ultimately paid dividends. I hope folks can take from my e-book that if issues will not be at all times going your approach, simply be your self and cling in there to chase your goals.
Sam Quek was chatting with BBC Sport’s Amy Lofthouse.