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Elite Sportswomen Survey: ‘The Most I’ve Ever Won Is A Leg Of Ham’ – Gallagher On Gender Pay Disparity

August 13, 2020

Winter Paralympic gold medallist Kelly Gallagher says the difference in financial remuneration and sponsorship between men and women in sport is “ridiculous”.

The visually-impaired Northern Ireland skier, who won Britain’s first-ever Winter Paralympics gold at Sochi in 2014, was responding to the findings from a major BBC survey of women’s sport.

The UK-wide BBC Elite British Sportswomen’s Survey was sent to 1,068 women in 39 different sports and received 537 responses.

In the survey, women speak out about “horrific abuse” on social media, constant comments on their appearance and sexist remarks questioning their right to play sport.

Gallagher, 35, won gold in the super-G category in Sochi and is also a multiple World Championship medallist, but says getting fair financial reward for her efforts has been impossible.

“Charlotte [Evans, her guide] and I won a race in Andorra and we got our medals,” Gallagher told BBC Radio Ulster’s Sportsound Extra Time.

“It was early in the day so it was decided to have another race and we won again – the local butcher sponsored it so we won a leg of ham.

“It’s the most I’ve ever won and it was wonderful to win something that had a value to it. Someone said it was worth a lot of euros but we couldn’t take it out of the country so gave it away.

“Able-bodied women’s and men’s ski racing are the same in terms of remuneration – that’s what we should be having and I just feel its ridiculous that we don’t win the same, especially in disabled sport, there’s no real prize money and there’s a real lack of sponsorship.”

Gallagher added: “It might be socially and corporately responsible to sponsor an impaired athlete but what are the companies and businesses going to get – they may as well sponsor of local children’s football team because the reach they are going to get is so much bigger.

“That puts a lot of pressure on us as women to raise our profile and do all these social media things – when actually what we want to do is concentrate on our sport and then for that to be covered.

“Not from a features point of view, in terms of what we’re up to in our personal life or what brand of clothes we are wearing, but about our actual sport.”

Gallagher also highlighted the lack of media coverage and body image issues impacting women’s sport while drawing from her own personal experience after giving birth to her first child in March.

“You can’t schedule having a baby between Winter Games as it’s too dangerous in my sport,” she said.

“I put off having a child until I reached certain goals and that was competing in the 2018 Games – it’s just something men don’t have to schedule in in that way.

“Although it’s difficult to leave your children for sport and be away quite a lot, it’s not the physically detrimental thing to your sport like whenever you are carrying a baby.

“I haven’t been on snow in over a year and going from a C-section to recovery is difficult but maybe now is the time to gently get back into the sport and back on snow.”

Click here to hear the full Kelly Gallagher interview on Sportsound Extra Time.

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