Ruth Dudley Edwards: What even brave Katie can't beat
You can't blame the media or sponsors for concentrating on male Olympic events, says Ruth Dudley Edwards
So tomorrow Katie Taylor, all nine stone or so of her, will compete for Ireland at the Olympics in the lightweight (60 kg) women's boxing category. As I write, Paddy Power is offering the distinctly unattractive odds of 1/25, which is no surprise since she's the world champ.
In a very honest blog in Friday's Daily Telegraph, Andrew Brown wrote of his discomfiture in watching Gemma Gibbons win a silver in judo for GB. Both contestants, he said, "showed pure, naked, fierce, animalistic aggression of a sort that one doesn't naturally associate with women" and he worried about "their soft limbs battered black and blue with bruises" and winced at the thought of his daughters fighting on a mat. But he got used to it after a few minutes. "But, then, you can get used to anything, can't you?"
I won't have the chance to get used to our Katie knocking seven bells out of her opponents, since I'm too squeamish even to look at violent sports. But I rejoice that she's there to demonstrate female courage, skill and determination in yet another arena, for this is the first Olympics in which women are allowed to box. In 1900, women were restricted to tennis or golf. Nowadays there are few sports they're kept out of, but it's been a long, long battle. It took women's work in two world wars to drastically alter the view of the civilised world that we were fragile creatures who might disintegrate if allowed to exert ourselves.