Why is International Women's Day so important?

International Women's Day (IWD) is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Each year, this day serves as a powerful reminder of the progress made towards gender equality and highlights the work that still needs to be done.

What Does International Women's Day Mean to you personally?

As we commemorate this day, I'm reminded of the winding path that led me to become the first black athlete to represent Team GB in the Winter Olympics in the sport of skeleton. My name is Brogan Crowley, and my journey is a testament to resilience, determination, and the power of role models. From overcoming setbacks and undergoing 10 surgeries to finding inspiration in the legendary Jessica Ennis-Hill, my story is one of perseverance and empowerment.

Brogan Crowley -  first black athlete to represent Team GB in the Winter Olympics in the sport of skeleton.

Inspiring Inclusion

This year’s IWD theme, INSPIRE INCLUSION, is aimed toward celebrating diversity and empowerment in 2024 and beyond in all aspects of society. It calls for action to break down barriers, challenge stereotypes, and create environments where all women are valued, respected and shown.

In the world of winter sports, where icy slopes and adrenaline rushes dominate, representation has often been a challenge. Sport itself, and moreover, the crazy and dangerous world of winter sport, has not always been seen as a place for women.

Barriers around stereotypes, access and funding exist and can be huge obstacle within sports where equipment plays such a huge role in success. Not only that, but in the UK, we have no ice track, meaning that exposure and visibility around the sport of skeleton is poor due to the sport only being televised on National TV once every 4 years when a Winter Olympics comes around.

Olympic athlete Brogan Crowley International Womens day

What is your sporting history that's brought you to where you are today?

Prior to my skeleton journey, I was a lover of all sports and would try anything. Being indecisive mixed with a love for sport and movement meant that I was the perfect candidate for heptathlon. I became a competitive force in the heptathlon, representing Great Britain at U20 level, winning the Senior Girls English Schools 100m hurdles, and breaking the record in the 100m hurdles at the English Schools Combined Events Competition.

From an early age, my journey throughout sport has been one of relentless determination. In the world of heptathlon, injuries are as relentless as the competition itself. Despite facing setbacks and enduring physical strains, I refused to let my injuries define my journey in sport. Instead, I viewed them as opportunities for growth and resilience. Encouraged to explore new avenues, I found myself drawn to the remarkable achievements of athletes like Jessica Ennis-Hill, whose fierceness in the sport ignited a fire within me to chase my Olympic Dream.

Winter olympic athletes

When did you discover skeleton as a sport?

Until the age of 20, I had no idea that the sport of skeleton even existed. Injured and sat at home watching sport, I witnessed the shining star that is Lizzy Yarnold, win a Gold Medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and started frantically searching online how I could give it a go and to my delight, I found a UK Sport Talent ID Search called #Power2Podium, that was searching for new skeleton talent. From that day onwards, and with the support of my family and friends, I embarked on a journey to defy the odds and carve my path in the snow-covered world of winter sports.

8 years and another 5 surgeries later…

At the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, I became the first black athlete to represent Team GB in the skeleton. I am a unique mixture of English, Irish and Barbadian and I am incredibly proud to inspire inclusion and to pave the way for future generations to follow their dreams. The power of representation is so important!

Since then, I have gone on to win my first ever medal on the World Cup Circuit, won a Bronze Medal in the Team event at a World Championships, and broken the start record on the fastest track in the world.

Brogan Crowley Olympic skeleton athlete

Breaking down barriers for women in sport

Females and young girls face so many barriers within sport – they are expected to look and act a certain way, expected to do certain sports and not others, but it’s time to inspire change and inclusion. Being a female in sport has not only helped me to become a determined, resilient, and strong woman, but it has also presented me with so many other opportunities.  

Sport, it's not just about sport.

Amongst so many aspects of life, skills that are acquired whilst doing sport are often transferable into the working world. Skeleton isn’t just about being strong and running as fast as you can to hurl yourself down a big icy slope. There are so many other factors that come into play which allow a person to be a great athlete and pilot and these kinds of problem-solving skills allow us to become great leaders and changemakers.

Being a sports woman has given me unbelievable opportunities. It has allowed me to commentate as a sports pundit for MCFC live (an absolute dream!!) and has provided me with the skills and knowledge to work as an Athlete Mentor with Youth Sports Trust on a programme called ‘Girls Active’, a National Programme which aims to break down some of those fears and barriers around females in Sport and help encourage young girls and women to be more active and confident.

Brogan Crowley skeleton olympic athlete

Seeing development within elite sport

In the sport of skeleton, this current Olympic Cycle has seen the introduction of a mixed team event, whereby 1 woman and 1 man will complete 1 run each from a reaction start and times are added together. It adds an exciting new event and will showcase men and women, side-by-side and competing alongside in an exciting and innovative new way with the added complexity of the reaction start. Things we love to see!

Your time to shine

As we celebrate International Women's Day, let us honour the resilience, strength, and achievements of women everywhere. My journey is just one example of the countless stories of women breaking barriers and empowering others to do the same and to the fact that resilience knows no bounds and that diversity is a strength to be celebrated. Together, we can create a more inclusive and supportive environment in winter sports and beyond, where every girl has the opportunity to shine and make her mark on the world, no matter where she comes from or what challenges she may face.

Winter Olympians Brogan Crowley

Never give up on your dreams

Finally, to aspiring athletes, I offer these words of encouragement: Believe in yourself and never give up on your dreams. You are capable of achieving greatness, and your journey may inspire others along the way. Through my own experiences, I hope to inspire and uplift girls who may be facing similar challenges or doubting their own potential.

Let’s champion for more change and prove that the sky is the limit when it comes to pursuing your dreams. If you can see it, you can be it!

Brogan Crowley winter Olympian in skeleton IWD

 #runlikeagirl #liftlikeagirl #inspireinclusion

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