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Unique charity programme helps sportswomen use their platform to change the sporting landscape

London, UK, 21st April 2022 — 35 elite female athletes including middle-distance runner and five times British champion Laura Weightman, former England netball Captain Pamela Cookey and wheelchair racer and Paralympic medallist Kare Adenegan, have come together to drive positive change within sport, as part of a unique programme created by women’s sport charity, the Women’s Sport Trust.

The athletes join a community of 76 athletes who have been part of Unlocked since its inception in 2020. Now in its third year, the programme continues to bring sportswomen together to tackle the issues they’re passionate about. From addressing visibility, driving more commercial value, increasing diversity and focusing on women’s health issues, the areas the athletes care about are many and varied.

In addition to hockey, netball, rugby union and league, this year sees the inclusion for the first time of athletes from baseball, kitefoil racing and weightlifting. 

Tammy Parlour MBE, CEO and Co-Founder of The Women’s Sport Trust, says: “Unlocked provides us with direct and unparalleled access to the athletes so we can understand both the challenges and opportunities that exist in women’s sport and what issues they care about the most. Feedback from our Unlocked alumni has showed that they value the community this programme gives them as well as the chance to connect with like-minded individuals. 

“As we reach the Women’s Sport Trust’s ten-year anniversary, we can reflect on how far women’s sport has come. We want to change the face of all sport and by empowering the athletes on Unlocked, we hope that they feel able to make the changes they want within women’s sport.”

Other athletes in the group include triple Olympic athlete and swimmer Hannah Miley; The Sunday Times’ Vitality Grassroots Sportswoman of the Year 2020 and rugby player Zainab Alema; weightlifter Mercy Brown; GB Skeleton athlete Tabby Stoecker and doctor and Bristol Bears rugby player Simi Pam.

Swimmer Hannah Miley said: “I first represented GB at the age of 15 and since then, I’ve been to three Olympic Games and collected over 30 international medals. I made the difficult decision to retire at the end of 2021, but I don’t want my journey in sport to end. I’m looking forward to meeting like-minded individuals on the Unlocked programme and seeing what we can do to support younger female athletes.”

Skeleton athlete Tabby Stoecker said: “I’ve only been competing as an elite athlete for a year so I feel I’m just at the start of my sporting journey. I know how lucky I am to have discovered sliding and my personal passion is to look at how we can support girls in accessing all sports throughout puberty and beyond.”

In the past two years, the Unlocked programme has seen positives outcomes:

  • Inspired to act: ten athletes have set up their own organisations to address their passions
  • Understanding their influence: seven athletes have joined advisory groups and boards
  • Creating future leaders: four Unlocked alumni have been appointed as athlete representatives in their sport
  • Empowered to speak out: dozens of athletes have spoken out about the issues they care about, from gender inequality in training facilities to racism in sport

As part of the Unlocked group the athletes access experts from across the sport, business and media worlds.  The Women’s Sport Trust hold workshops and opportunities to hear from industry insiders, as well as provide athletes with their own ‘activator’.  The activators are leaders in their field who will share their connections and experience to help the sportswomen tackle the issues and areas they feel passionate about.

To celebrate the launch of 2022’s Unlocked programme, the Women’s Sport Trust has released a short film, created by Glorious Sport. The film features Kare Adenegan (para-athletics), Zainab Alema (rugby union), Mercy Brown (weightlifting), Pamela Cookey (netball), Hannah Miley (swimming), Simi Pam (rugby union), Tabby Stoecker (skeleton) and Laura Weightman (athletics).

Additional assets available:

  • List of athletes taking part with a short biography
  • Unlocked 2022 launch film. Film directed and produced by Root for Glorious. DOP John Fisher, Hair & Make-Up Carla Francesca Wall
  • Editorial images featuring athletes from this year’s Unlocked programme