Hayley McQueen was joined by Karen Pickering on Sportswomen this week

Last Updated: 04/06/14 3:47pm

Karen Pickering discussed a wide range of issues on Sportswomen this week

This week's inspirational Sportswomen guest was Karen Pickering MBE, writes host Hayley McQueen.

During her 20 year international swimming career, Karen won 35 major championship medals and 38 national titles, was a four-time World champion, broke two world records, and competed at four consecutive Olympic Games.

As England have announced their swimming squad for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, who better to discuss the talents to watch for from all the home nations competing in Glasgow?

Karen also talks about the ups and downs of her long and successful career, pushing her body to the extreme, and her remarkable recovery from a broken back suffered in a car crash, which nearly prematurely ended her career in 1996 .

It took Karen three years to get back to full fitness and she said: "I did wonder if I would compete ever again".

Luckily, she did just that, and she chats about her many successes in the pool right up until her retirement in 2005.

Karen is now perfectly placed to pass her experiences to the next generation.

She is extremely passionate about giving elite athletes a voice, she is Chair of the British Athletes Commission, and she sits on the executive boards of the English Institute of Sport and the BOA-Athlete Commission.


Karen was surprised and disappointed to hear about the lack of women in senior roles on sports' national governing bodies.

A new report by the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation showed that only 10 of 45 governing bodies had chief executives who were female.

There has been a 19% increase in the last year but the figures are still worryingly low.

"It's a real shame, it's something we notice in sport a lot," said Pickering.

On the subject of quotas, it's all about balance for the swimming great.

"I chair the British Athletes Commission and we try and make sure we have experience and expertise on board," she said.

"A big part of that is having women. I wouldn't want to take someone on just because they are a woman but there are plenty who have expertise and who can do a great job.

"There are some sports that need to have pressure put on them to make them realise it's not about making up numbers and ticking a box, but that there are women out there who are bringing something very valuable to a board."

Wolfe positive

As well as an in-depth discussion on this, we have a round-up of the weeks' news and reporter Rachel Brookes also caught up with Suzie Wolfe, a development driver for Williams who discusses the pressures of F1 and becoming the first female driver to take part in a Grand Prix weekend for over 20 years.

Wolfe tells Sportswomen: "It's been a long journey with ups and downs on the way.

"I always dreamed of joining F1 since I started carting at the age of eight."

With a female deputy team principal also at Williams, Wolfe feels women are accepted in the world of F1 but that they have to work that little bit harder at the beginning but, "once you've earned that respect, you are treated as an equal".

She added: "People tell me I'm in a man's world but that's changing, in an organic way.

"More and more women are coming into the sport because they are passionate about it, and they are getting jobs because they are good at what they do. It's really changing in a positive way."

To hear more from Suzie Wolfe and Karen Pickering you can watch Sportswomen, which is available On Demand.