How athlete Emily Borthwick is hoping to inspire the next generation
Wigan’s Emily Borthwick is one of the country’s leading highjumpers – and now she is on a mission to inspire the next generation of young female athletes.
She is trying to close the gender gap in sport, paving the way for more girls to participate in sport as they get older.
Last year, a Sport England report found an alarming gap of eight per cent between the number of boys who did their recommended amount of physical activity and sport compared to the number of girls.
Borthwick, who won bronze at the British Championships in September, believes it is an issue which should be addressed with children when they are in primary school.
She is working for Totally Runable, a firm which is trying to close the gender gap in sport.
Borthwick, 23, is aiming to deliver workshops for pupils and teachers in the Wigan area and beyond.
She said: “Totally Runable have been operating since 2014 and have already done a lot of great work in South Yorkshire and Manchester, and now they’re coming to Wigan.
“My role is as a lead trainer, I’ll go to classes and develop workshops and work with schools to measure any gender gaps in sports.
“What language is used? What sports are being played? We’re not going into schools to teach PE. We deliver sports workshops and then give the school an action plan so they can improve the hard work they do and ultimately, try and close the gender sport gap even further.
“We’re finding that some girls as young as seven are losing confidence in sport, and so we’re trying to address that inequality before their transition to high school.
“We think it’s really important and speaking to teachers and headteachers, they’re working very hard towards it – we’re there to offer fresh eyes, a different perspective and support.”
Borthwick balances her training and work with reading for a master degree in sports exercise psychology at Loughborough University.
Her fellow Wigan Harrier, Jenny Meadows, is a director for Totally Runable.
“I was lucky, I was always involved in sport from a young age and I always loved athletics,” said Borthwick.
“Jen was one of my role models and it’s great to be working with her on something we’re both passionate about. But if girls don’t have role models in sport it’s harder for them to be inspired.
“You look at the lack of exposure of women in sport in the media, and they’re not as encouraged as much. Thankfully we are seeing some improvements, such as the profile of women’s football, but there’s a long way to go.”
Borthwick, cleared 1.77m at the British Championships, just 3cm behind Morgan Lake who won the event.
And earlier in the year, she was fourth at the British Indoor Championships with a leap of 1.84m, missing out on a medal by count-back.