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Clare Balding webchat - Wednesday 8 January, 12 midday - 1pm

(91 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 06-Jan-14 20:35:41

Our first webchat guest for 2014 is <drumroll> Clare Balding. Clare last joined us back in July 2012 on publication of her autobiography My Animals and other Family. Shortly after that, she lead us through the incredible journey that was the London Olympic and Paralympic Games - and emerged from the experience with the words 'national' and 'treasure' surgically attached to her name.

This year, Clare will be talking about the BT Action Woman of the Year Awards: a public vote to find the finest sportswoman of 2013. There's a fabulous line-up of 10 contenders - including Ellie Simmonds, Christine Ohuruogu, downhill biker Rachel Atherton and freestyle skier Katie Summerhayes - and the winner will be announced on the Clare Balding Show on Saturday 25th January. Please do cast your vote before 19th January.

Clare is passionate about boosting the profile of women's sports which currently only get 5% of the coverage and 0.5% of the sponsorship money received by men's sports. Her show every week commits to showing at least one female guest, and her view is that the more the public get to know our sportswomen, the more they will care about them.

Come and chat to Clare on Wednesday between midday and 1pm, or post a question to her in advance on this thread.

choccyp1g Wed 08-Jan-14 11:43:32

I loved your autobiography, and enjoyed your desert island disks recently.

My question is what sports do you take part in now? and what life long sport/exercise would you recommend as a good one to start as a teenager? Would it be the same for boys or girls?

RatherBeOnThePiste Wed 08-Jan-14 11:53:57

Hello there Clare <beams>

So which will come first, sponsorship investment or media coverage?

Looking at Newton's sponsorship of the Women's Boat Race, and the difference it has made, and will make re gender equality and its profile (my rowing mad daughter has a friend currently on the Cambridge women's lightweight crew, we are SO proud) would suggest this is the way forward, but can see it is a bit chicken and egg.

My other question, and I know tis only one, but BIWI said I wasn't to ask, so I feel I must, do you knit or crochet? Would you be Team Knit or Team Hooker?


MrsKwazii Wed 08-Jan-14 11:58:54

grin at you getting a woolly question in Pistey. Please do answer it Clare!

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 08-Jan-14 11:59:46

Clare's here and just doing a tiny piece to camera for us (she's good at that I've heard) and will be answering questions in a jiffy.

ClareBalding Wed 08-Jan-14 12:01:56

Hello, it's Clare here at Mumsnet Towers. I have a cup of coffee by my side and sushi on the way (which will hopefully help my brain work a little quicker) so I shall do my best to work my way through your questions and answer them as fully as I can. Thank you in advance for taking the time to ask them.

ClareBalding Wed 08-Jan-14 12:06:22


Hi Clare,

I want to ask you about the effects of the term "sport" on young people's morale.

For background, I loved sport as a child (netball, hockey, swimming etc..) but like many girls lost interest when I reached puberty. However, my DD is totally adverse to any sports (not through want of trying on our part) - she has been like this since a toddler (she is now 16).

She feels intimidated, lacks basic skills, forgets the rules, is non competitive, is bullied (by teachers) and lacks confidence in her abilities.
We have always encouraged her to try her best and be positive - emphasised that is more important to "try" than be the best. However she still hates sport (it is compulsory at her school until aged 18).

So my question is can we not concentrate on "being active" as well as sports. My DD loves walking, is very active musically and will happily yomp through snow and up most hills.

None of these are really sports though - I wonder if too much emphasis is based on sport rather than activity. What do you think? (sorry that was a very long winded question!)

Clare: This is really interesting because I've felt for a long time that sport can be taught in a more holistic way. For example, I love the Commonwealth Games because the different countries that are members of the Commonwealth fascinate me - what is their economy based on, what does their flag look like, what's their population and the geology of their country (I'm thinking of little islands like Vanuatu or Nieu) and that really stimulates my mind. Sport can be used as a way of teaching history, geography, maths and of course science (especially biology and the implications of nutrition).
Activity is good for the mind and body in any shape. I walk every day and it makes such a difference to my mental state. I would encourage your DD to do whatever makes her heart sing. If she doesn't like competitive sport, that's fine but I agree, being active every day is a huge bonus.

teaandcustardcreams Wed 08-Jan-14 12:07:11

Hi Clare,

Do you think coverage of women's sport (and women talking about men's sport) will grow in 2014, and what people could do to help?

ClareBalding Wed 08-Jan-14 12:08:12


oh, I am a total convert to Clare Balding after reading her book (which was brilliant, so well written!)!

not sure I have any questions, just wanted to say I'm a fan!

Thank you Kveta. So pleased you enjoyed My Animals and Other Family

RatherBeOnThePiste Wed 08-Jan-14 12:11:13

This is not a my question, but from my DC, I nearly forgot to ask...

Were you on a BA flight out of New York JFK due to leave last Thursday that was delayed by snow?

Only we were and my son was sure you were too, but I didn't see to know.

ClareBalding Wed 08-Jan-14 12:11:24


Hi Claire,

I loved the programme you made about Emily Davison. Was the reality of life as a suffragette really that much of a shock to you and has it affected your outlook on the feminist movement? Also do you have any plans to make any similar programmes?

Thank you. It was a fascinating programme to make and I was shocked by elements of it - particularly the police brutality towards women and the force feeding in prison. I would love to work on more documentaries and that is certainly the plan. That one tied in particularly well to racing as it was the 100th anniversary of the 'Suffragette Derby' but I am sure I can find other links. I'd love to make one about women's football in the early 20th century - I'm intrigued by Lily Parr and the Dick, Kerr Ladies team.

tinygorilla Wed 08-Jan-14 12:11:32

Hi Clare - thanks so much for coming in!

In a slight Desert Island Discs rip off - if you could only take one animal to a desert island, what would you take? (for companionship - not eating)

CMOTDibbler Wed 08-Jan-14 12:14:38

Hi Clare, one of your many achievements that impress me is that when you were commentating at the Paralympics you concentrated on the sport, not the disability and no condescending 'oh, aren't they brave'.

Will you be commentating about Sochi?

BananaHammock23 Wed 08-Jan-14 12:14:55

Hi Clare. Are you feeling apprehensive about reporting on the Winter Olympics from Russia given their stance on homosexuality? A lot of gay sportsmen and women are boycotting it, did you consider doing the same?

R4 Wed 08-Jan-14 12:15:24

I'm not keen on competitive sport because I am rubbish at it. It's no fun being on the losing side all the time (especially if that 'side' is a team of one). sad
I much prefer exercise for the fun/benefit of it, rather than pitting myself against someone else.
Love Ramblings, Clare, keep it up!

ClareBalding Wed 08-Jan-14 12:16:16


I like your book and your style, I like playing tennis now ( but not at school being a bit rubbish so then sent to play on the bumpy court were you had no change of returning any ball that bounced as it could fly any which way) but school sport was torture cross country running etc which we had to do when hockey pitch was waterlogged so also running in drizzle or even pouring rain while PE staff watched from warm and dry with binoculars,

why do you think PE teachers get away with humiliating pupils that are not good at PE concentrating on the best for school honour and ignoring or worse bullying or sending the not so good off to amuse themselves with the balls when you simply can not imagine this happening in English maths or history, personally I think this type of attitude from several of the sporty teachers who just do not get that
a.) some do not like sport/ team sport / communal showers and
b.) some are not good and though they may improve will never be good enough to be in the "team"
is responsible for so many adults and teens hating sport and vowing never to do it again and what do you think the solution is?

this does not mean i think sports days are wrong or that competition is bad it was not losing that made me hate sport but attitude of teachers etc; I think it is right that those that win get prizes, just like academics getting good grades everyone can't have C in maths to be fair neither should everyone get prize for running but just like you should not tease someone that struggles with numeracy neither should you tease someone that can't run fast, kick a ball straight or jump a hurdle

Hopefully I've covered this in the first question I answered but I hate any child (boy or girl) to feel alienated by sport and I think there are ways of including everyone in the team, whether they be in charge of diet, tactics, transport or scouting for talent. There are many avenues open in sport to people without 'natural' sporting talent (although I am just reading 'Bounce' by Matthew Syed who argues that talent is over-rated and it's all about practice) and I would love to see those aspects reflected in school sports. Event management, for example is a huge business and I can see those who don't enjoy playing sport still playing a key part in organising the school sports day. It just takes a little imagination from the school!

CherButtons Wed 08-Jan-14 12:18:25

Hello Clare! <waves>

As I'm sure you are told all the time, your expert anchoring of the 2012 Olympic Games is one of the key things that sticks in my mind from that heady two weeks!

I was wondering how you think about that time now. I can't imagine what it was like to be 'on the inside', as it were, - do you have clear memories of each individual day? Or is it all a bit of a blur? Can you watch old clips or do you find it too nostalgic?

Enjoy your brew and sushi smile

Earthymama Wed 08-Jan-14 12:18:49

Hi Clare, thanks for doing this.

I having been watching Britain by Bike again, I love it.

I am not sporty at all, much to my regret. Again due to a very nervous mother and old-style PE teacher.

My question is; how can I encourage my grand-daughterto enjoy more organised activities? She is shy of being watched, something I share and I want her to overcome it as I know she would love things if the initial interactions didn't put her off.

If this doesn't happen, I am thinking of Pilates and Yoga ax well as swimming as activities that can fit into her life. Do you agree?

CocktailQueen Wed 08-Jan-14 12:19:03

Hi Clare
Am a complete fan of yours - I love how knowledgeable you are and how you can report on lots of different types of sport.

Can I ask, what is your favourite event to report on/cover? Is it the Sports personality of the year, a horse event such as the Horse of the year show, or something else?? Thank you!

Calypso2 Wed 08-Jan-14 12:20:41

Another huge fan here. I'd like to see more winter sports on television. Do you participate in any winter sports at all? Are you a snowboarder or skier? I'd like to see more winter sports on television. I don't think they get enough coverage.

LatinForTelly Wed 08-Jan-14 12:20:45

Hi Clare,

I very much enjoyed reading your book, and think you're a great role model for girls and young women.

I was struck by your self-belief and determination as you grew up. Which elements of your childhood do you think gave you these qualities, or do you think you were born with them? (I hope this isn't too personal.)

ChazMax Wed 08-Jan-14 12:20:53

Hi Clare,
Can I firstly say I'm a huge fan. I don't know anyone who doesn't think you're completely fabulous.
Can I ask you, when life throws you a curve ball and you feel you've taken a bit of a knock, how do you get back on your feet. Any tips?

Earthymama Wed 08-Jan-14 12:21:22

Oh yes, I too am worried about the Olympics and our gay folks who will be there.

I really think that attitudes like that should prevent countries from being awarded any major events.

ClareBalding Wed 08-Jan-14 12:22:31


Clare, thanks for almost single handedly making people realise that women are just as knowledgable and passionate as men about sport. And for not starving/botoxing yourself silly in the process.

I play hockey and we try to encourage not just girls but grown women back to sport. The Olympics (and Kate Middleton) helped a lot, but interest waned after the immediate aftermath. Do you think Glasgow could learn any lessons from London on keeping momentum going after the initial excitement dies down?

I am very excited to be a part of BT Sport, which is championing women through the Action Women of the Year Awards (voting closes in 10 days time). For a major new sports broadcaster to be so committed to covering and writing about women's sport on its website will have a huge impact. Women's sport has been marginalised for far too long and BT Sport is helping to prove that the stories are just as strong, the characters just as vivid and the depth of talent just as impressive as men's sport. This, in my opinion, has been one of the strongest legacies of London 2012 and I think the strength of British women at both the Winter Olympics next month and the Commonwealth Games this summer will continue to offer young girls the examples they need to convince them that they can follow a career in sport as well as engaging the wider public to understanding more about women's sport and therefore caring more about it.
I have always felt that sports broadcasting is about making people care and you can't do that if the information isn't out there on a regular basis. That means results, fixtures and features. Women's sport is (I believe) on the brink of a major breakthrough in terms of getting coverage every week of the year instead of just during major mixed sport events. I talk to a lot of big businesses and am always pointing out to them the opportunities available in sponsorship of women's sport because there are so many good events and it is also, relatively, very affordable.

herecomesthsun Wed 08-Jan-14 12:23:02

oh hello, I'd like to say I loved, loved the book. I am a really non-sporty and very booky leftie arts grad sort of person, and what I really love is how you manage to speak to people across quite a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. I thought it was very honest, the book that is, as well. I heard you speak at Greenbelt (in between chasing my toddler); I thought it was fab that they actually invited you to speak against the background of a racecourse!

Having dived into books in the course of a rather sickly childhood, I am doing everything I can to encourage my kids to get involved in sport, and having a presenter like yourself with such intelligent, open enthusiasm is a great boon for the next generatin.

onwardsandsidewards Wed 08-Jan-14 12:23:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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