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Laura Winter

Interview with Laura Winter

Laura Winter has worked as a journalist in a variety of sports worldwide, including cycling, swimming, rowing and golf. Since 2014, Laura has been part of a team that created the first dedicated women’s cycling TV show and YouTube channel in the world: Voxwomen. In this interview, Laura tells us about the challenges of women in sports, and much more.

What do you think are the biggest challenges to women in sports and sports journalism?
Doors are opening like never before for women in sport. Though we are undoubtedly still the minority, there are opportunities galore in a range of sports and some of the best broadcasters in the world are women. However I cannot deny there are still challenges. One of the greatest challenges is breaking down the preconceptions and stereotypes about women in sport. They often say a woman has to work twice as hard as men in sport to be taken half as seriously and that is certainly something I have experienced over the years. Whether it’s an audience judging you solely for the way you look or questioning if you actually like sport (!) there are still pockets of society who sadly believe women do not have a place in sport, be it on the field of play, talking about it, or writing about it. Luckily, we have a generation of strong, talented and knowledgable broadcasters and journalists proving them wrong.

What are your biggest goals in your life/career currently?
I’m three years in to my career, and while I have experienced some incredible things, there is still so much more I want to do. I’m very ambitious! I’d love to present the Olympic Games and the Tour de France, two events that are very close to my heart. To be at the forefront of some the greatest sporting events in the world, be it the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games, the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia or the Vuelta Espana, would be a dream come true.

What types of unique experiences have you had as a result of your profession?
I’m very lucky in my job that I do get to travel the world and witness some of the greatest sporting events on the planet. The London 2012 Olympic Games, my first Olympics, were the best two weeks of my life. And most recently, the Women’s Cricket World Cup Final at Lord’s was one of those days where you truly felt you were part of history; you could feel the seismic shift as Lords, as one, rose in celebration and joy for female cricketers who a couple of decades ago, could scarcely dream about playing on that hallowed turf. It is those historic days, those ‘where were you when…’ moments that get me out of bed in the morning; they are the reason I love what I do and want to be a sports broadcaster for the rest of my life.  

Who or what inspires you most?
I am and forever will be inspired by sport – by what I am lucky enough to watch and witness, by the athletes I interview, and by the feelings, emotions and experiences I have when I am training, racing and competing myself. Growing up, I never saw my gender as a barrier to being active, partaking in sport or training and racing at a high level. But not only are there high levels of inactivity generally here in the UK and beyond, the gap between men and women, boys and girls is too big. To put it simply, there are not enough women and girls doing sport and I want to help break down the societal, cultural and logistical reasons preventing them moving more and enjoying sport, as well as shining a light on our tremendous sportswomen who are too often overlooked and overshadowed, their achievements ignored by the mainstream media. I work tirelessly to give those women the coverage and recognition they deserve.

I am also inspired by my mum. Though she may kill me for saying it, she really does prove the adage you’re never too old. She started riding a road bike aged 57. Now aged 61, she drops me on most climbs and rides over 150 miles a week, despite suffering a broken leg, a broken wrist and other minor complications along the way. She has climbed Mont Ventoux four times. She is nothing short of an inspiration!

What got you interested in sports?
It helps that I am horribly competitive…. I started swimming when I was just four years old, and by the age of seven I was competing. I raced until the age of 19, before rowing for three years competitively too. Now, I ride a bike, and try to do at least 100miles a week, weather and work permitting. As long as I can remember sport was on TV in our house, be it Wimbledon, the Football World Cup, the Rugby World Cup or the Olympics. I lived and breathed it and had no doubts it would become my career one day.

How do audiences gain from your keynote presentations?
I hope that an audience will leave inspired, enlightened and motivated. I want women and girls to realise that sport IS for them, be it playing, running, swimming, cycling, rowing, or writing, reading and talking about it. And I would like men and boys to take that message home to their daughters and sisters, wives and mothers. A rising tide lifts all boats. Great sport is great entertainment, no matter who is doing it, and I hope my passion, knowledge, expertise and the experiences I have had in my career so far will motivate, galvanise and entertain an audience.