Wed | Jul 24, 2019

Sportswomen deserve equal pay - Stewart

Published:Friday | December 14, 2018 | 12:00 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer

Recently retired Jamaican sprinter Kerron Stewart hopes that female athletes will one day be paid the same as their male counterparts. Stewart voiced the sentiment in an interview published this week by Athletics Weekly, a British track and field journal. Stewart, who retired after more than a decade as one of the world's best sprinters, believes women work just as hard as men, with the best meeting the best more often.

"My one regret is that women athletes are not appreciated," she told writer Stuart Weir. "Our worth is not the same as men in the sport - even though we do the same event and might even put in more work."

In an observation born from her years among the very best in women's sprinting, she detailed, "Week after week, we show up against the best, and we compete with each other whereas the guys don't compete with each other week after week."

At her peak, Stewart often raced the likes of compatriots Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Sherone Simpson, and 2011 World 100 champion Carmelita Jeter of the United States.

"It's hard to go up against the best week after week and to be expected to be at your best every week," she said. "That is another reason why I say women should be equally paid with men."

The view of Stewart, who won silver medals in the 100m at the 2008 Olympics and the 2009 World Championships, recalls the rivalry between British middle-distance stars Sebastian Coe, now the president of the world-governing body of athletes, and Steve Ovett. Coe and Ovett traded records in the 1500m and the mile during the late 1970s and early 1980s but seldom met in head-to-head races.

In her long career, competition seemed to bring out the best in Stewart. In addition to her big-meet silvers, she took a bronze medal in the 200m at the 2008 Olympic Games and is in a small group of Jamaicans to have broken both the 11-second and 22-second barriers.

She closed her career as the ninth-fastest woman in history over 100m, with her twice, achieved personal best of 10.75 seconds. The only Jamaicans to go faster are Fraser-Pryce, Elaine Thompson, Campbell-Brown, and Merlene Ottey.

Wonderfully consistent, Stewart broke 11 seconds on 26 occasions.