Wednesday 08 March 2017
Today is International Women’s Day when we celebrate the social, economic, sporting, cultural and political achievements of women around the globe. To mark the day we’ve picked out six inspiring sportswomen who could star at the Glasgow 2018 European Championships – an exciting new multi-sport event that brings together the continent’s leading sports. Join in and tell us which sportswomen you’d most like to see compete at Glasgow 2018 via our Twitter page.
Jodie won plenty of fans with her stellar performances at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games – where she won two gold medals with England – but her Triathlon journey started much earlier in life. It was in her native West Midlands that Jodie was first introduced to Triathlon (by her dad) and she quickly made a name for herself in the sport, achieving six top 10 positions at ITU competitions between 2005 and 2010. She won her first major title with Great Britain at the 2011 World Mixed Relay Championships in Lausanne before enjoying an immensely successful 2014, which included two ITU World Triathlon Series wins and those famous Commonwealth Games triumphs at Strathclyde Country Park. Triathlon returns to Strathclyde Country Park at Glasgow 2018 and Jodie could be looking to use her positive experiences of the venue as a springboard for European Championships success.
Catriona is one of the UK’s most accomplished female golfers with four LPGA Tour and six Ladies European Tour titles to her name. The Edinburgh-born golfer became Scottish Girls Champion in 1986 and won the Scottish Amateur title three times between 1991 and 1994, before joining the Ladies European Tour and LPGA tour in 1995. Since then Catriona has won 11 professional titles - including the Women’s British Open in 2009 - and has been on the winning Solheim Cup side three times, most notably in 2003 when she holed the winning putt. Glasgow 2018 plays host to the first ever Golf Team Championships, where elite male and female golfers will compete alongside each other for the first time ever at the famous Gleneagles PGA Centenary Course. As one of Great Britain’s highest ranked golfers, Catriona Matthews will be amongst those hoping to compete in front of a home crowd in what promises to be a ground-breaking event for the sport.
Glasgow’s iconic Cathkin Braes Country Park will host the 2018 European Mountain Bike Championships on August 7 and one name we could see starring at Glasgow 2018 is Swiss biker Jolanda Neff. Despite her tender age, the 24-year old is currently the highest ranked female cross-country mountain biker in the world. Introduced to cycling at the age of 8 by her dad, Jolanda is a triple U23 Mountain Bike World Champion (2012, 2013 and 2014) and has two UCI Mountain Bike World Cups to her name. She has also won gold in the cross-country events at the last two European Mountain Bike Championships. And it’s not just on the trials where Jolanda succeeds. She is also a skilled road cyclist and won the Swiss National Road Race Championships in 2015.
Swedish swimmer Sarah Sjöström burst onto the scene aged just fourteen when she took gold in the 100m butterfly at the European Aquatics Championships in 2008. Following on from that maiden victory Sarah has quickly risen to become one of Sweden - and indeed Europe’s - most accomplished athletes. In the space of less than ten years, she has won 48 major swimming medals and currently holds the world record for the 50m butterfly (long course), 100m butterfly (long course and short course) and the 200m freestyle (short course). In what was perhaps her finest accomplishment, Sarah became the first Swedish woman to win an Olympic Gold medal in swimming in the 100m butterfly at Rio 2016 – shaving 0.16 seconds from her own world record in the process. With ten European Aquatics Championship gold medals to her name – three of which came at London 2016 – Sarah Sjöström could potentially break even more records at Tollcross International Swimming Centre in the summer of 2018.
Great Britain has enjoyed immense success in rowing over the past two decades and an exciting new generation of British rowers are now emerging to help continue that run. Edinburgh’s Karen Bennett is part of this crowd and has the medals to prove it, having won gold medals in the Women’s Eight at the 2016 European Championships and at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Not bad for her first full season with the senior GB rowing team. Karen was a relative late-comer to the sport, having only taken up the oar at the age of 20 after responding to a talent search. It was only when she moved to London in 2010 that Karen’s skills in the boat really came to the fore. Having competed at Strathclyde Loch during the 2014 Commonwealth Rowing Championships, the 28-year old will undoubtedly be eager to compete there again in front of a home crowd at Glasgow 2018.
Gymnast Becky Downie was just 14 years old when she helped England secure a silver medal in the All-Around team event at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. The 26-year old has gone from strength-to-strength since then, claiming two gold medals at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and a bronze at the 2015 World Gymnastics Championships in Glasgow (both of which took place at the SSE Hydro). She competed alongside her sister Ellie at the 2016 Rio Olympics and will be one of the star attractions at the 2017 Gymnastics British Championships in March. The Nottingham-born athlete has also enjoyed plenty of success at European level having picked up a gold and two silvers at last year’s European Championships in Bern. She also won gold in the uneven bars at the 2014 European Championships. With good memories of Glasgow’s SSE Hydro and a proven record against the continent’s finest gymnasts, Becky – and younger sister Ellie – could be ones to watch at Glasgow 2018.
The 2018 European Athletics Championships in Berlin will also form part of the 2018 European Championships and there are many inspiring female athletes who’ll be aiming for a chance to compete at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium. British athletes who could shine in 2018 include Dina Asher-Smith - who clinched gold in the 200m at last year's European Athletics Championships - and Scottish prospect Laura Muir, who won two golds at the European Indoor Championships last week. The Glasgow 2018 European Championships will build on Glasgow and Scotland’s reputation for hosting world-class sporting events including the 2014 Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup. Pre-registration for priority access to tickets is currently available at glasgow2018.com for a limited time.
Image credits: BettiniPhoto, UEG