On Tuesday, Beth Tweddle joined me on Sportswomen, a weekly show I present on Sky Sports News' about women in sport. What immediately followed her appearance in the studio, absolutely shocked and sickened me and my colleagues at Sky Sports, along with many other people.
Beth participated in a Twitter Q&A after the show and was subjected to terrible abuse. We put forward our studio guests for Q&A sessions weekly as they are a great way for viewers to engage with some of Britain's most successful sports stars as well as continue the conversation from the show. For me, the more exposure we can give these women, the better. Every week we get through a stream of insightful questions from people with a passion for sport and a genuine interest in the dedicated and talented sportswomen who join us on the show.
This week was no different. But, as everyone knows, some individuals also chose to use this as a platform for some truly vile abuse. The sad reality is that these individuals also highlighted some of the unacceptable and offensive attitudes still encountered by women in the public eye.
Clearly, we have some way to go to changing these mind-sets.
But the actions of the few proved to be the trigger to unite many to come out in support of Beth. Very soon messages of support came through, from many men as well as women. The collective strength of their outrage suggests a cultural shift - one that increasingly does not accept sexism, bullying or abuse. Unsurprisingly, the response from Beth herself was classy and dignified, expressing the hope that people would continue to react the same way by reporting abuse no matter who it is aimed at.
What happened on Tuesday won't change our approach towards women's sport. If anything, it motivates us to continue with our commitment to cover and promote the achievements of sportswomen and perhaps even help to change attitudes along the way. We want to use our access to role models like Beth, Hope Powell, Louise Hazel and even Mel C to inspire women of all ages and all backgrounds. We also discuss issues such as body image and equality and we've heard from inspirational athletes like Sarah Storey, Christine Ohuruogu and Sally Gunnell.
It's not just the famous faces we shine a light on. One of the most inspirational women who has joined us in the studio is Rimla Akhtar, whose story is typical of so many whose work in the community is the backbone of women's sport.
Through the Muslim Women's Sport Foundation, she is making really significant progress to encourage more Muslim women to get involved with sport. Soon after appearing on Sportswomen, Rimla was recognised for her work at the Sunday Times and Sky Sports Sportswomen of the Year Awards held at Sky Studios in December, taking home the Community Award. On a night of many stars and household names, no award was more richly deserved.
Change in attitudes won't happen overnight but we have to keep standing up for what we believe in. We owe it to women like Beth who have worked so hard to achieve success. And we owe it to the women, like those Rimla works with, who are discovering the positive impact that sport can have on their lives.