Alison Macleod says something in this interview that I find telling. When asked whether a female racer has an advantage or a disadvantage, Macleod mentions strength first: “Most girls are clearly disadvantaged when it comes to strength. Racing does require a lot of strength and lot of training so we have to work twice as hard as the guys do just to kind of keep that muscle up and everything, so we’re at a little bit of a disadvantage.”
So again we see how much strength training helps female athletes, even in sports where, at first glance, it wouldn’t seem applicable, like auto racing.
I sometimes hear a female athlete say that she has cut back her weight training because it makes her look “too big,” “too manly,” etc. Moreover, often this is one of our exceptionally talented female athletes.
Strength is important (often decisive) in sport. Thus it is, to my mind, a pity that female athletes feel pressure, still in 2009, to conform to archaic ideals of femininity.
Perceptions are slowly changing, however. Society will grow up, eventually, but until then female athletes must carry on and lead the way.