Women in sport have had an amazing year in 2017, we have collated a list of our highlights. It includes teams and individuals that are supporting children to have diversity in their role models to encourage them to get active and have a go. Seeing female athletes pursue passions, overcome adversity and apply themselves to build their skills, and play to their potential, only encourages the next generation to follow in their footsteps. Here are some of the great things that happened in Australian Sport this year:
Football Arguably the most well-known women’s sporting team is the Matildas, the Aussie female football side. This year they have enjoyed amazing success, winning the Tournament of Nations, being awarded Team of the Year, and having their superstar striker, Sam Kerr, win Sports Personality of the Year and Sportswoman of the Year. Even their coach, Alen Stajcic, shared in some of their glory, being awarded Coach of the Year. The Matildas are now favourites for the Asian Cup next year, and are serious contenders for the next women’s World Cup in France in 2019.
AFL Numbers wise, the overall success of the AFLW’s first season is a testament to the strong interest in women’s sport. Stats like 24,500 spectators at the first game and a 5.6 million-strong TV audience across the season speaks volumes. Business Insider reported “Last year, the growth in female participation in Aussie Rules football was double that of male participation. Of the 1.4 million registered players around the country, 27 per cent are now women. In the past 12 months, 350 new women’s teams have registered to play AFL. Just last week Brisbane Lions captain, Emma Zielke, was in Bundaberg sharing some tips with a local women’s team, it’s these grass roots initiatives that are supporting children to have diversity in their role models, build new skills, get active and play a great game.
Cricket Australia has retained the Ashes with the Southern Stars winning at North Sydney Oval. To top off that win, Cricket Australia this year set a minimum wage for our female players. Ben Amarfio, Executive General Manger of Broadcasting, Digital Media, and Commercial of Cricket Australia, says cricketers are the highest paid female athletes in the country, something they will continue pushing. Amarfio also presented a plan at the recent Sportette Summit to increase the average player’s income to $210,000 by 2021.
At an individual level Ellyse Perry made a huge contribution to the Ashes with a double century against England at North Sydney Oval, all after bowling 21 overs and taking 3/59 in the first innings. What a contribution.
Tennis On the court for tennis, Sam Stosur beat fellow Aussie Daria Gavrilova in the WTA final at Strasbourg early this year. Impressively, Stosur has been the Australian No. 1 since October 2008. Off court, Ashleigh Barty won the Newcombe Medal as Australia’s outstanding tennis player of 2017. The Medal is Australian tennis’ highest individual honour.
Netball To netball, the Diamonds closed their year with a win over the Silver Ferns, securing the World No. 1 title in Sydney. This is their second clean sweep in the Constellation Cup series since its inception in 2010.
Two Suncorp Super netballers also won coveted awards in the first ever Australia and New Zealand Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Sports Awards. Jamie-Lee Price won the ‘Next Big Thing’ award, a credit to her big season with the Giants (her first year playing in the Australian national league). Jamie-Lee also named the Player of the Tournament at the Netball World Youth Cup. Sunshine Coast Lightning’s Laura Langman was awarded the ‘Hands of Gold’ prize, what a way to finish a year when her club also won the premiership in their debut season.
Rugby In union, women are forging further pathways, with the unveiling of the new Super W competition earlier this month. Off-the-field, Raelene Castle was appointed Rugby Australia’s new CEO, adding to the growing list of women in prominent leadership roles.
League The Jillaroos secured back to back World Cups and finished the year undefeated. For the first time the final was played as a double-header with the men’s final at Suncorp Stadium – a great opportunity for bigger crowds and more support for the women’s national league to showcase their talent.
Athletics On the track, Sally Pearson has come back from injury by winning the gold medal at the 2017 IAAF World Championships. Pearson overcame serious wrist, hamstring, and Achilles injuries to secure the title of World Champion. She also won the 100m hurdles at the Great City Games earlier in the year in Manchester. We can’t forget that this is also an athlete who is self-coached.
Hockey The Hockeyroos finished their test series with a clean sweep, winning over Japan in all three tests. The girls also secured their seventh Oceania Cup title after beating New Zealand at the Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre in October. The team now faces a huge 2018, including the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and the World Cup in London.
In the Pool Into the pool, Emily Seebohm is at it again, eclipsing Matt Welsh as Australia’s most successful Short Course swimmer. She won her 25th National Title; Welsh won 24 titles between 1997 and 2007. Seebohm also took out the World Title this year, and was awarded the Olympic program swimmer of the year. Also out of the pool, Emma McKeon took out the coveted Swimmer’s Swimmer award, voted on by her peers.
Fellow short course swimmer Cate Campbell broke the 100m world record in freestyle this year. She splashed in at a speedy 50.25, shaving 0.33 seconds off the previous time set by Swedish Sarah Sjostrom.
Women’s water polo team, the Aussie Stingers, won at the FINA World League Intercontinental Tournament in America early this year. The girls met the challenge head on, winning against China, Japan, Canada, and Kazakhstan during the week-long meet. Maddison Keeney won gold for Australia in Budapest at the 207 World Diving Championships. Keeney won in the one-metre springboard event. Olympics
The Olympics On the Olympics front, Chloe Esposito, Australian shooter and modern pentathlon competitor, was named Young Change-Maker for Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games 2018. Esposito claimed the country’s first medal in modern pentathlon with gold at Rio last year. And yet another win for women in leadership, Catherine Fettell was elected to the Australian Olympic Committee Executive earlier this month. She fills the vacancy left by Nicole Livingstone who stepped down in November.
On the Water Back in the water, the Women’s Fours in rowing are on fire. The girls won at the 2017 World Rowing Championships and the 2017 World Rowing Cup. They were also crowned the female crews of the year at the 2017 Hancock Prospecting Rower of the Year awards. Sports minister Stuart Ayres and patron of Rowing Australia Gina Rinehart officially unvieled the Hancock Prospecting Women’s National Training Centre in Penrith this year. Up to 25 top female rowers can call the entre home, which comes equipped with a boat shed, full rowing fleet, and strength and conditioning facilities.
Tyler Wright took out her second world title all while supporting her brother through a brain injury and herself coming back from a knee injury. As esteemed Coach Lisa Alexander said in the Daily Telegraph:
“What I like about Tyler is she just gets on with it, she has real grit and determination. I love her unflappable nature and the way she performs under pressure.”
Jessica Fox claimed the 2017 Canoe Slalom World Championship title. She also snagged Canoeist of the Year at the Australian Canoeing Awards. Jess is also said to be a great mentor to other young girls in the sport.
The brand new Paddle Hall of Fame opened its doors in November to inaugural inductees. The line-up included Helen Brownlee, who started canoeing in the 60s, and whose decorated career includes life memberships with NSW Canoeing, Australian Canoeing, and the Australian Olympic Committee.
Volleyball Volleyball dream duo Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar won the women’s FIVB World Tour event at Vollyfest Manly. The pair are Australia’s most successful women’s team on the Tour in a decade and have yet to lose a single set since coming together this year.
Gym On the floor, Emily Little won the gymnastics Senior All-Around Title in May this year. She conquered the competition to claim her first national title by just 0.350 of a point. Bouncing back from a tough year of personal setbacks in 2016, Little claimed gold on vault in the opening round at the 2017 World Cup series. Georgie-Rose Brown won beam and floor. For rhythmic gymnastics, Tara Wilkie walked away with the Senior International All-Around Title.
In the gym, Tia-Clair Tomey was crowned the fittest woman in the world at the 2017 CrossFit Games. The Central Queenslander had finished runner up in 2015 and 2016, but refused to walk away without the gold.
Other outdoors On the slopes, Britt Cox won Outstanding Woman in Sport at the 2017 Women’s Health Women in Sport Awards. The mogul skier won the FIS World Cup Crystal Globe at the end of the last northern winter season.
Roxy “Rocks” Perry started climbing when she was seven, and this year became a dual national champion. Perry took out gold in both sport climbing disciplines at the 2017 Australian Speed and Lead Championships.
Women are proving themselves up to the challenge across all sports. The ball has been set rolling, and we look forward to seeing big things ahead for 2018.
Feature Image from The Matildas Instagram