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At stake is not only the women’s world championship multisport crown but a potential three-peat for Elina Ussher (Nelson). But while the title could be decided among any of the top 10 leading contenders, a plea has gone out from several of them hat they be given due recognition.
Two-time champion Sophie Hart, who began her multisport career while at medical school in Dunedin, is one of the favourites to win this year.
She is challenging media outlets to give the winner of the of the women’s title today more than a tail-end sound-bite or paragraph of column space.
Hart (34) took the lead in seeking equality in media coverage at a press conference at Kumara.
She said the race coverage about Ussher and second placegetter Robyn Owen last year was abysmal.
"The men were having an absolute phenomenal race at the front. But there was equal part in the women’s race as well and that was missed. It was really sad," she said.
"I think we deserve it," she added to loud applause.
"It’s a tricky one, because you don’t to go out there and be seen to be seeking attention. But I just think in terms of getting the recognition that we deserve.
"Last year I think the coverage of the women’s race was so poor. The guys were out there having such an awesome race. But there was an equally exciting race between the women, and I just felt that it had been totally missed."
Hart felt it was a bit frustrating from a woman’s perspective.
"We spend just as much time training and going as strong and as fast as we can, too. I just think we deserve it. It was Robyn’s first time over from South Africa and it was a great story and I just think it was missed."
Nine-time Coast to Coast champion Steve Gurney was quick to support the women’s race.
"This year the women’s race is the one to watch," he said.
Gurney reminded those present of the time he and five-time women’s champion Kathy Lynch protested about the men’s and women’s prize money being equal.
Gurney fronted the media conference then dressed as a woman to highlight the inequality.
"We often criticise the media for just focusing on the men and I think this year we have real reason to have them focus on the men and women equally."
Three-time champion Emily Miazga is another supporting the women’s call for greater coverage in the media.
"When I was racing it was a constant battle to just try and get that equal recognition. We’re all out there covering that same course and it’s a very hard race," she said.
Miazga added that the quality of the women’s field this year was perhaps one of the best there had been.
"We want to grow women in sport and particularly for this event, So it’s absolutely crucial that we highlight and shine the limelight on these top women in order to inspire and to motivate and to empower those younger girls coming through the ranks."