Monthly Archives: March 2015

Girls’ PE lessons give ‘nightmares’

The way sport is taught to girls in British schools needs a radical rethink, according to Olympic and World cycling champion Victoria Pendleton.

Recent statistics show girls leaving school are half as likely as boys are to be physically fit.

Pendleton believes this is because physical education (PE) lessons are not designed with girls in mind.

“The way sport is done at school is the stuff of nightmares for girls,” said Pendleton.

“Take cross country runs, for example, we had to wear horrible, blue knickers and a polo shirt to do them. The smallest uniform for the coldest weather: what’s that about?

“And I remember absolutely hating communal showers. I think every teenage girl does.

A group of girls from Staines took part in a coaching session by Chelsea Ladies FC

In June 2014, Sport England released participation figures which showed there was an increase of 85,000 young girls actively taking part in sport at least once a week

“This shouldn’t be too hard to fix – a few shower curtains, a bit of space to get dressed, some mirrors and working hairdryers – and if it means getting more girls into the habit of sport it’s got to be a good thing.”

The 34-year-old was speaking at the launch of the Youth Sport Trust’s latest initiative to tackle these lower levels of participation by girls in PE and sport, the Girls Active Camp at Loughborough University.

Funded by Sport England and run in partnership with Women in Sport, the three-day camp saw 165 girls aged 14-16 take part in a series of sports sessions and leadership workshops intended to turn them into champions for sport, as opposed to sports champions, within their schools.

The Girls Active Camp idea follows a pilot project that ran through 2014 in 20 schools around the country. The results were remarkable:

  • Girls who felt happy about the way they looked rose from 25% to 56%
  • Girls who felt unhappy about the way they looked fell from 37% to 16%
  • The percentage of girls who looked forward to PE rose from 38% to 71%
  • The percentage of girls who felt positive about school rose from 24% to 78%

Pendleton says she was “lucky” to grow up in a sporty family and have a twin brother to compete against, but she knows her story is an exception to the usual tale of girls turning their backs on sport as they reach their teenage years.

The most recent Sport England participation figures revealed two million fewer women aged 14-40 take part in regular sport than men, a statistic that has led to the launch of its ‘This Girl Can’ campaign.

“Although women are most active when they’re younger, that happens to be where the biggest gender divide exists,” said Sport England’s director of community sport Mike Diaper.

“It’s where sporting habits are formed, in some cases for life. That’s why it’s so important girls get a great experience of PE and sport at school.”

Pendleton agrees but believes there is no “one-size-fits-all policy” to encourage more girls into sport.

“Some girls and some schools like traditional sports like football, hockey and netball; but others might want to try something completely different like street dance or self-defence,” the double Olympic champion said.

“The important thing is that we stop this silly idea that sport isn’t for girls.”

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Armitstead wins Trofeo Alfredo Binda

Britain’s Lizzie Armitstead has won the Trofeo Alfredo Binda in Italy, the second round of the UCI Road World Cup.

The 26-year-old sprinted ahead of French world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot in second and Dutchwoman Anna Van Der Breggen, who finished third.

Defending champion Armitstead now leads the 2015 standings after victory in the 123.7km race, with the Tour of Flanders the next event on 5 April.

The Commonwealth champion

won the Tour of Qatar in February.

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Briton Thomas third in Gent-Wevelgem

Britain’s Geraint Thomas recovered from a crash 50km from the finish line to come third in the Gent-Wevelgem race in Belgium on Sunday.

Italy’s Luca Paolini, 38, won the 239-km event in wet and windy conditions for Katusha with Dutch rider Niki Terpstra (Etixx-Quick Step) second.

Team Sky rider Thomas was blown off the road into a ditch by a gust of wind but managed to rejoin the leaders.

The Olympic champion had won the

E3 Harelbeke race on Friday.

Britain’s world time-trial champion Sir Bradley Wiggins, who is targeting victory at Paris-Roubaix in two weeks, gave up due to the conditions.

The Isle of Man’s Mark Cavendish lost contact with the leaders around 80km out.

The one-day race is part of the

‘cobbled classics’

and is the last event before the Tour of Flanders, which starts on 5 April.

Riders battled 90kph winds and driving rain as the race, featuring cobbled sections and short climbs, passed through the Flanders region.

Paolini attacked with just under 6km to go and distanced himself from the chasing group of five riders to take victory.


1. Luca Paolini (Ita/Katusha) 6hrs 20 mins 55 secs

2. Niki Terpstra (Ned/Etixx-Quick-Step) +11 secs

3. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky) same time

4. Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel/Etixx – Quick-Step) +18 secs

5. Jens Debusschere (Bel/Lotto) +26 secs

6. Sep Vanmarcke (Bel/LottoNL) +40 secs

7. Juergen Roelandts (Bel/Lotto) +1 mins 52 secs

8. Daniel Oss (Ita/BMC Racing) +4 mins 15 secs

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Wiggins to compete in Gent-Wevelgem

Former Tour de France champion Sir Bradley Wiggins will ride for Team Sky in Sunday’s Gent-Wevelgem sprint classic in Belgium.

The world time-trial champion will be joined by Team GB team-mate Geraint Thomas for the 239-kilometre one-day event.

Isle of Man sprinter Mark Cavendish will ride for Etixx-Quickstep.

Giant-Alpecin’s John Degenkolb is the defending champion in Flanders.

The race is part of the

‘cobbled classics’

and is the last event before the Tour of Flanders, which starts on 5 April.

Wiggins will also compete in the Paris-Roubaix on 12 April.

It will be the 34-year-old’s final road race before switching to the track and bidding to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

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Cancellara out of spring classics

Fabian Cancellara has been ruled out of next month’s Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix after breaking vertebrae in the E3 Harelbeke race in Belgium.

The crash in first classic of the year fractured two vertebrae in Cancellara’s lower back, ruling him out of the remainder of the spring campaign.

The Swiss rider, 34, was considered a big threat to the hopes of Sir Bradley Wiggins in his final Paris-Roubaix.

Former champion Tom Boonen also misses both races with a shoulder injury.

Boonen has won the Tour of Flanders four times and the Paris-Roubaix three times.

The absence of Cancellara and Boonen will aid Team Sky rider Wiggins’ bid for success in the Paris-Roubaix, his final road race

before switching to the track

and his bid to qualify for the Rio 2016 Games.

Cancellara, a three-time winner both of the forthcoming spring classics and the defending Tour of Flanders champion, crashed out within the first hour of the E3 Harelbeke and abandoned the race shortly afterwards.

His Trek Factory Racing team

wrote on Twitter: 

“X-rays have confirmed the worst: Two fractures of vertebrae in lower back for Cancellara means no spring campaign.”

Team director Dirk Demol added on Belgian television: “It seems that a water bottle fell on the cobbles and caused it. He hit his wrist and the lower part of his back. He wasn’t looking good at all.”

The Tour of Flanders is held on 5 April with the Paris-Roubaix running a week later.

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