Anyone looking for inspirational figures in Welsh sport in the week of International Women’s Day would be advised to check out the incredible efforts of Menna Fitzpatrick.
Urdd Gobaith Cymru recently held their #FelMerch (translation: Like a Girl) conference in Cardiff to tie in with the annual global diary marker on March 8.
FelMerch is aiming to inspire and support young women and girls to get involved in sport at all levels and Fitzpatrick would take some beating as a role model.
The 23-year-old Welsh Paralympic skier has no vision in her left eye and limited sight in her right.
But she has overcome that barrier – as well as all the other structural ones society has placed in her way as a female in a sport not normally associated with Wales – to reach the very top of the mountain.
When Menna won a silver medal in the Super-G ski event at the Winter Paralympics in Beijing this week, she became Britain’s most successful Winter Paralympian of all time.
At the last count, she had won six Paralympic medals – four at the 2018 Games at PyeongChang and a silver and bronze this week in China.
The fact that she was born with congenital retinal folds that has limited her sight has never curtailed her determination and ambition.
She went on skiing holidays with her parents and needed their support as well as those of her guides on the slopes, who accompany her when she flies down the course at speeds of up to 60mph.
The Urdd’s #FelMerch campaign recognises that every female keen to get involved in sport faces challenges, even if they may not be as obvious as those faced by Menna.
It aims to support women and girls to feel empowered to get the most out of physical activity. The goal is to ensure that girls keep active as they get older and are able to overcome inequalities in access and participation.
Fewer girls are involved in sport at all ages than boys, the retention of girls and young women in sport is less guaranteed than it is for their male counterparts, and the ratio of coaches and administrators is also heavily skewed against women.
Research has also shown that all these trends of inequality were widened during the lockdowns that accompanied the pandemic.