Pickering disappointed at Sports Personality nominations

FORMER Olympic swimmer Karen Pickering has expressed her disappointment that no female candidate has been selected for this year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

Pickering, who won gold at the Commonwealth Games and World Championships during a glittering career, will be attending the annual event on December 22 and has admitted that she will vote for cyclist, Mark Cavendish.

Candidates include track and field athletes Mo Farah and Dai Greene, tennis star Andy Murray and cricketers Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook but the likes of swimmers Rebecca Adlington and Keri-Anne Payne and tae-kwon-do world champion Sarah Stevenson have been overlooked.

“They (women) have to do more extraordinary things to get noticed as, indeed, do a number of men in minority sports and it has taken cyclist Mark Cavendish a long time to be recognised,” said Pickering.

“The list of 10 contenders was put together by a panel of 27 sports editors from national and regional newspapers and magazines and if you look at the written press in sport, it is generally written for men or with a view that the person who picks the newspaper up from the shop is the man, who will straight away turn to the sports pages.

“Personally, when I read a newspaper I don’t want to pick through every single story and I am not really interested in tactics and formations.

“I like to read the features about triumphs in other sports and there seems to be less of that in sports papers. The fact the candidates have been chosen by sports editors is indicative of the sports that have been chosen.”

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Despite her disappointment, Pickering believes some good could come out of the situation with the BBC set to review their nomination process.

“If one woman had been nominated this year we would not be having this discussion. There are some amazing female athletes out there and I think this may just provide a wake-up call,” said Pickering.

“I don’t know what the best way is to solve the issue, the nominations used to be made by the general public, but I think perhaps sports editors and producers from radio and TV programmes should have a say.

“The most important people to ask, in my opinion, are the previous winners, like they do in America with the Oscars. They would probably have a better overview.”

For tae-kwon-do champion Stevenson, she secured World Championship gold despite losing both her parents to terminal cancer this year, while swimmers Adlington and Payne both won World Championship gold in 2011.

Pickering said had the nomination process been stretched out to not only include newspaper and magazine editors, athletes such as Stevenson could have gained the recognition she deserves.”

There are some amazing stories out there and I am sure that if more people out there knew the story of Sarah Stevenson, then more people would look at that,” said Pickering.

“Sarah’s is such a remarkable story and makes you think how strong she must have been to deal with that.

“Then there is Rebecca Adlington whose 800m win at this year’s World Championships was phenomenal.

“For some reason Rebecca or Keri-Anne Payne are not worthy of a nomination yet the male track and field athletes who won World Championship gold have been nominated.

“I will be at the awards ceremony and my vote will be going to Mark Cavendish but I think it’s time the chicks started receiving more recognition.”