There’s no doubt Olympic silver medallist Gail Emms, who retired from playing badminton four years ago after Beijing 2008, is looking forward to the London 2012 opening ceremony.
“I’ve got an amazing dress for it... great hair and makeup... and that’s all I’m saying...” she says, giggling.
Yet, four years ago, there was nothing frivolous about her approach.
Olympic medallist Gail Emms
After years of anonymous achievement, this was a career-defining moment. A chance to take the spotlight and achieve financial security for the first time in her life.
Emms freely admits the Olympics is one of the few opportunities for women to receive attention on a global scale.
Women’s sport currently receives less than 5% sports press coverage – although when it is covered it gets great figures. There million people watched the England v France ¼ Final at the 2011 Women’s World Cup live on BBC Two, for example.
Scroll down to see which women are up for medals
London 2012 will see every country will be represented by women for the first time since the games began and with women making up 48% of the team, is the most equal Team GB ever.
It also means that for the first time, women could be taking home more medals than men.
"It definitely could happen," says Emms, who will be commentating badminton events.
"Of course, we want the whole team to do well.. but it's actually looking quite likely at this stage."
Today, the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF), launches its Go Girl campaign, backed by Emms and 11 times Paralympic Champion Baroness (Tanni) Grey-Thompson, to help keep the legacy of London 2012 alive beyond the six-week long event.
Organisers hope the public will tweet their support by using the hashtag #gogirl and create the biggest ever community of support for the women of Team GB at wsff.org.uk/gogirl.
Emms wants to transform the profile of sportswomen, so they're not obliged to sell their bodies to pay the rent.
“It was horrible,” she says, bluntly, about the years after the Olympics when sponsors finally came calling.
“I had sponsors telling me to wear fake tan and a tight kit. But you can’t be like, ‘No, I don’t believe in that' when you have a mortgage to pay.
"I know I got those sponsors because I was blond. But I had to play their game if I wanted to make a living.”
The pervasive sexism of sport coverage is warping the minds of the next generations, she says.
“In the news everyday it’s football, football, and you might get a tennis player with her boobs out.
“Then when I go into schools and I ask them to name a female athlete, they can’t. The girls want to be WAGs. And the boys want to be Wayne Rooney.”
GO GIRL: GET INVOLVED
- Register support to receive regular updates, chat with other Go Girl fans and qualify for discounts.
- Tell your friends! Use #gogirl and like our Facebook page.
- Uploads pics to the Go Girl gallery - a prize will be awarded for the best.
- Get into the Olympic spirit by taking part in the Gold Challenge run in partnership with the British Olympic Association and Sport England.
- Follow @wsff_uk on twitter.
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