Paula Radcliffe feels other sports could learn from athletics in providing equal pay for men and women.
Radcliffe revealed she was a victim of discrimination at the start of her career when she received a table lamp for winning a road race, while the winner of the men’s event was handed a television.
But Radcliffe said equality was now recognised throughout the sport and that the issue is not a talking point, as it has been in tennis this week.
Gender equality came to the fore when BNP Paribas Open tournament director Raymond Moore said ahead of Sunday’s finals in Indian Wells that women’s tennis “rides on the coat-tails” of the men’s game. He also said women players should “get down on (their) knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born”.
Moore has since apologised and resigned, but world number one Novak Djokovic added fuel to the fire when he said “the stats show we have much more spectators on the men’s tennis matches. I think that’s one of the reasons why maybe we should get awarded more”.
Djokovic has since backtracked on his suggestion that men’s prize money should be higher than that of the women’s game, but Radcliffe feels the controversy has raised questions regarding both gender equality and media coverage of sport in general.
“Some other sports have to do a little bit of catching up and the media has a role to play in that as well,” said Radcliffe, the former world marathon champion and still the record holder in the event.
“The media coverage that women’s football, for example, gets in comparison to the men’s game is not the same, and they are just as good role models.
“In athletics, we’re very lucky because it’s more about the actual achievement and being the best that athletes can be.”
Radcliffe said it was not always that way, as she recalled her own painful experience of gender inequality.
“On one occasion when I was 16 I did a road race and won,” said Radcliffe.
“The athlete who won the men’s race won a TV — and I won a table lamp! But now it’s parity across the board in all IAAF and road race events.
“Yes, some fighting had to be done to get women to take part in marathon’s events. But now we have parity in our sport, we’re very lucky.”
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