It seems as though 2018 has provided a never-ending conveyor belt of victories when it comes to women’s sport.
There was that Commonwealth gold for England Netball, a world silver for GB women’s wheelchair basketballers, Georgia Hall storming to British Open victory, Vicky Holland being crowned the overall ITU World Triathlon champion, Grand Slam titles for Bianca Walkden and Lauren Williams and multiple medals for Dina Asher-Smith, Katerina Johnson-Thompson and Laura Muir.
And that’s only scratching the surface!
But it’s not just been on the pitch where success has been occurring – there has been plenty off it too.
Here’s our chronological look back at some of the landmark moments from 2018 that have shown just rapidly women’s sport is growing.
1) Turning The Air Golden (Multiple sports – All year)
Alex Scott, Ali Mitchell, Amy Williams, Chemmy Alcott, Danielle ‘Nolli’ Waterman, Ebony Rainford-Brent, Eni Aluko, Helen Richardson-Walsh, Isa Guha, Jenny Jones, Kate Richardson-Walsh, Katharine Merry, Maggie Alphonsi, Natasha ‘Mo’ Hunt, Sam Quek, Sara Orchard, Vicki Sparks.
These are just some of the women making names for themselves behind the mic with their brilliant commentary and punditry.
2018 has certainly been a breakthrough year in terms of the number of women on our TVs and radios, with this influx of talent joining mainstays Clare Balding, Gabby Logan, Hazel Irvine and Jacqui Oatley in an ever-expanding pool.
Unfortunately with this growth comes plenty of criticism, most of it unfair and based on their gender rather than their abilities.
But for those who think their appearances are just ‘box ticking’… Think again! These women are awesome and they’re here to stay!
— Chemmy Alcott OLY (@ChemmySki) February 22, 2018
2) The ‘Army of Survivors’ (Gymnastics – January)
The scandal surrounding the sexual abuse of young athletes at US Gymnastics has been a harrowing affair but it has also shown that women will no longer accept being maltreated by men.
The courage shown by each of the 250+ women who spoke out during the sentencing of Larry Nassar was awe inspiring.
To be able to stand up, confront that evil man and talk about what they went through in the full glare of the media eye is an achievement greater than any medal.
We’ll leave the final word to Aly Raisman:
“The women you so heartlessly abused over such a long period of time are now a force, and you are nothing.”
3) History On The Ice (Pyeongchang 2018 – February-March)
Pyeongchang 2018 will go down in legend as the Games where British women re-wrote the history books.
Lizzy Yarnold became the first athlete ever to defend an Olympic skeleton title (amongst a number of other records), Menna Fitzpatrick and Jennifer Kehoe became Team GB’s most decorated Winter Paralympians – with one gold and four medals in total – and Izzy Atkin won the country’s first ever skiing bronze.
Add into that an awesome skeleton bronze for Laura Deas, three para-skiing podium places for Millie Knight and the fact that Mica McNeill and Mica Moore even made the event after having to raise the money to compete themselves and you soon see why this Games was so important.
And don’t forget Ester Ledecka, who became the first person in Winter Olympic history to win golds in snowboarding and skiing at the same event, the latter with borrowed equipment. Now that’s impressive!
4) The Return Of A Legend (Tennis – May)
Serena Williams is just incredible.
Not only did she return to tennis from a very difficult birth this year, she nearly won two of the three majors she competed in!
Her US Open final rant aside, Williams was once again at her empowering best in 2018 and one of a number of athletes who are proving that it is possible to have children and still compete at the very highest level.
While the French Open may be best remembered for the unnecessary furore around her cat suit, that really shouldn’t detract from the fact she got all the way to the final in her first Grand Slam since nearly losing her life shortly and overcoming postpartum depression.
In response, Nike perfectly summed up what most people feel about Williams below.
— Nike (@Nike) August 25, 2018
5) The First #ShowUp Event (Cricket – June)
A fantastic initiative launched by the Women’s Sport Trust, the #ShowUp campaign has been an important instrument to get people talking about women’s sport on social media.
To see so many people sharing their experiences of attending fixtures on social media – and feel comfortable doing so – is fantastic and a sure sign of progress in our acceptance of women’s sport.
The highlight of the year though has to be the first specific #ShowUp event which saw England’s cricketers take on South Africa and New Zealand in a T20I double header shown live on Sky Sports.
The overwhelmingly positive reaction, full stands, relentless Twitter chatter and captivating play were all sure-fire signs of just how much women’s cricket has grown recently and the day was a huge success.
Bring on the next one!
6) They Came, They Saw, They Were Inspired (Hockey – July/August)
Ok so we’re very biased but how good was the 2018 Hockey Women’s World Cup?
The baking sunshine, superb on-pitch action and the amazing run from the Irish team were all reasons that contributed to making the tournament very special, but one thing in particular made it really stand out – the fans.
More than 100,000 people packed into the Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre and provided memorable support across the two weeks of action, with the stands full for each of England’s games and the final, while BT Sport’s coverage also attracted some pretty impressive figures.
To see so many interested in what is still a minority sport – so much so that the stadium’s original capacity was doubled due to unprecedented demand – was truly amazing and showed once again we as a nation really are taking women’s sport seriously.
— England Hockey (@EnglandHockey) August 8, 2018
7) A New Venturi (Motorsport – August)
An important moment that perhaps went under the radar, Susie Wolff’s appointment as Team Principle of the Venturi Formula E team is no less significant than any of the others on this list.
Wolff has been a pivotal figure in motorsport for a long time, firstly as a driver then as a commentator and presenter, and is another woman showing that you can combine having a child and working full-time.
But seeing her at the helm of a team in a sport that will help shape the future of the motoring industry is arguably her most important achievement yet and sign that motorsport is changing for the better.
Who knows, perhaps one day we’ll see Wolff come face-to-face with husband Toto (currently executive director of the Mercedes F1 team) in the battle for a major championship… That’s a spectacle we’d love to see!
8) The Deal We’ve All Been Waiting For (Rugby Union – September)
It’s something many have been asking for since the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup and the RFU finally came good this year as they announced full-time contracts for the Red Roses in 2019.
Why it’s taken so long for rugby to allow its biggest stars to once again train professionally in the XV-a-side format is still largely unclear, especially considering their success in recent years and the high volume of very talented players progressing into the international team each season.
But hopefully that will all be forgotten now when the remaining recipients of these deals are announced early next year, with Emily Scarratt, Natasha Hunt and Jess Breach having already committed to transferring from the sevens programme.
Will this mean our women can exact revenge on New Zealand come the 2021 World Cup? Well if they can run them close having only trained professional for a few months, imagine how good they could be having done so for two years…
— jessica breach (@jessbreach) December 20, 2018
9) One Second That Changed Everything (Netball – October/November)
What a year it’s been for England Netball.
Ever since Helen Housby scored that extraordinary last-second penalty shot to win her side Commonwealth gold over Australia, it seems as though they’ve been in the headlines every day since – and rightly so.
What made their success even sweeter though was that it came despite minimal government funding to the point where they didn’t know if they could to be full-time beyond 2019.
But that is likely to change now with Vitality and Nike stepping in and providing lucrative multi-year deals that will not only offer financial security to England Netball but also help them grow significantly in many areas.
This was an unprecedented move from these companies, particularly in a sport with little awareness before this year, but if successful it could be a major turning point that encourages more and more big brands to invest in women’s sport.
10) Our Inspirations Honoured (Women’s Sport Trust – December)
We did have this section reserved for next year’s women’s football World Cup but following the publication of the New Year’s Honours list we couldn’t not give the final word to the amazing Jo Bostock and Tammy Parlour.
The work they’ve done to boost the profile of women’s sport in this country is simply immeasurable – the fact teams such as the Lionesses have so much support now compared to a few years ago can certainly attributed, at least in part, to their tireless efforts.
What they have already achieved and continue to so do with the Women’s Sport Trust – including setting up the aforementioned #ShowUp campaign as well as the #BeAGameChanger awards – is changing the world of sport for the better.
Thank you for everything Tammy and Jo – we can’t wait to see what the next few years bring!
We’re incredibly proud to announce that our co-founders, @Tammy_Parlour and @Jobostock , have been awarded MBEs in the New Year 2019 Honours List for services to gender equality in sport. https://t.co/MFpLiItPgE
— Women’s Sport Trust (@WomenSportTrust) December 28, 2018