Rachael Blackmore, Helen Glover & others make huge leap for women in sport

Rachael Blackmore

There was a smorgasbord of historic wins and new records over the weekend that saw women’s football take a huge step into the limelight. GiveMeSport Women recaps the individual triumphs the nation saw take place over the last few days.

Rachael Blackmore wins Grands National

Rachael Blackmore

After a stunning run of form at Cheltenham Festival last month, Rachael Blackmore rode to victory at Aintree to become the first ever female Grand National winner.

Despite being somewhat of an outsider with her odds before the race, the Irish jockey partnered Minella Times to a superb run, beating the likes of race favourite Cloth Cap to the finish line. Her historic victory comes just weeks after she became the first female rider to win the Champions Hurdle and win the Ruby Walsh Trophy for leading Cheltenham jockey.

Blackmore’s rising status only sets the tone that women can break the mould and can compete alongside their male counterparts without any aid or advantage.

Helen Glover rows to gold in comeback race

Helen Glover made an emphatic comeback to the water after almost five years out of action. The double Olympic champion partnered with Polly Swann in Sunday’s European Rowing Championships to seal the win after a nail-biting competition.

The pair won by just 0.25 seconds, adding another accolade to their already impressive medal count. Glover and Swann won World Championship gold together back in 2013 and went on to win a European title the following year. Glover is vying to become the first woman to make the Team GB Olympic rowing team after having children.

She took time away from the sport after her success in Rio 2016, where she won gold. The comeback of the number one female rower has been hugely anticipated, but it was definitely worth the wait.

Shannon Courtenay wins world title for first time

Shannon Courtenay

Described by Steve Bunce as what “might have been the best women’s fight we’ve ever seen in this country”, Shannon Courtenay bagged the vacant WBA world bantamweight title on Sunday. 

The 27-year-old boxed her way to victory after beating Australia’s Ebanie Bridges on points.

“We worked so hard and for someone who has genuinely turned her life around it shows people can achieve anything,” Courtenay said after her win. “I boxed nicer, I had the cuter shots. I kept throwing the jab out. My jab won me the fight – you could see that from her eye.”

Bridges was left with a swollen left eye that she informed her corner she couldn’t see out of during the fight. The damage caused by Courtenay ultimately gave her her first ever world title.

Emily Campbell sets new British record

Emily Campbell’s gold medal performances at the European Championships on Sunday helped round off Great Britain’s most successful team performance in weightlifting since 1948.

The 26-year-old set a new British record thanks to her 122kg lift in the snatch. She then went on to smash the Commonwealth record, setting the bar at a new 154kg in the clean and jerk. Her overall total ensured she wrapped up the overall European title.

Campbell scooped three gold medals on Sunday after hitting six out of six lifts, making her the first British weightlifter to register a clean sweep win since Marie Forteath in 1988.

Lauren Rowles makes Paralympic rowing history

Thanks to a gold medal-winning row in Sunday’s European Championships, Lauren Rowles has carved her name alongside Laurence Whiteley in history as the first athletes to hold the treble in their event. 

The two currently hold the Paralympic, world and European titles, falling just shy of beating their own world record best time.

“It’s a moment in the history books – we are now the Paralympic, world and European champions,” Rowles said. “To hold all three titles at once is truly special.”

The 22-year-old will now shift her attention to the Tokyo Games this summer as she looks to win yet another Paralympic gold.

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