Clare Balding: Being a lesbian helps me be a better sports presenter
BRING a lesbian helps when you are a female sports commentator because you are focusing on male sporting prowess rather than their bodies, Clare Balding has said.
The gay BBC TV presenter was answering questions on the Mumsnet website.
Ms Balding said that her sexuality has never felt like a burden and can actually be a help in the world of sports presenting.
“I have never been a flirt so it's not as if I would get giggly in an interview but I guess I benefit from not having anyone think that I'm commenting about a male tennis player or rugby player for any other reason than their talent on the field of play,” said Ms Balding, who will be one of the main presenters of the BBC’s Olympics coverage.
She said, however, that she and her partner Alice Arnold, the newsreader, receive an undue amount of attention when they attend functions together because of their relationship.
“I fear there is always a bit more excitement when Alice and I go out than when Hazel Irvine or Sue Barker step out with their husbands but such is life. I genuinely think it's changed over the last few years as people have just got used to the idea,” said Ms Balding.
The presenter was asked about the lack of female presenters on television and whether anything could be done to widen the pool of women presenters beyond the current pool of “Barbie look-alikes”.
She said: “I just think we need more women on TV and if there were more out there, we’d have more of a cross-section of looks.
“I think it’s a fault of our society that we judge women so heavily on looks at the expense of talent, intelligence and wit. We should take it upon ourselves to change that view and one by one, we can change the world.”
She said that girls and women “are judged and judge themselves” too strongly on their body shape and size.
“That’s why I think the Olympics and Paralympics are so important for women to see that it’s not what their body looks like but what it can do that is important,” she said.
Ms Balding said that she is looking forward to the equestrian Olympic events in Greenwich Park.
“They’re all my friends and [I] really hope they can win gold,” she said.
Balding confessed to her 150,000 Twitter followers that she was “nervous” before the lunchtime web chat.