Newly elected IOC Athletes’ Commission member and Olympic cross-country skiing champion Kikkan Randall discusses her passion for gender equality, and her involvement in grassroots sports organisation ‘Fast and Female’

Gender equality is something that is very close to my heart, and an important goal in Olympic Agenda 2020. I’ve experienced first-hand what sports have done for me, and as an IOC Athletes’ Commission member I’d love to help create an easier path into sport for girls around the world, to encourage more women to get involved in the administrative level.

 

Using my sport to inspire

I started putting pink in my hair to show people that cross country skiing was a fun, exciting sport and that as a girl I could be strong and fast. While competing in the World Cup for the USA, I also became good friends with Chandra Crawford, an Olympic gold medallist from Canada.

Chandra had started an organisation called Fast and Female in her home country after finding out that girls are six times more likely to drop out of playing sport than boys.

We both knew how important it was for sport to be central in girls’ lives, whether they wanted to be a competitive athlete or simply be healthy and active.

So Chandra began hosting these small events, bringing along her teammates to serve as inspirational role models. When I heard about the programme I signed on straight away.

 

The future is female

Fast and Female is such an exciting, powerful organisation, and one that can do so much good. It’s also a great banner to unite under, so I took charge of things in the USA, and started organising events around the country.

It’s been hard at times not to put more energy into it when I had to focus on competing, but now that I’m retiring I’m really looking forward to capitalising on the fact that we have these amazing female athlete role models, working with them and getting them to connect with the girls in person.

We really do have a tremendous opportunity to grow the programme across the USA and inspire girls to stay in sport. I’ve got some ideas on how I’m going to manage it, but it’s probably going to be busier than I ever could have imagined! I’m just ready for the ride. 

 

The power of the role model

The girls are going to get to learn that athletes are not some superheroes that were born out of a dinosaur egg somewhere! They grew up doing things and facing challenges just like the rest of us, and they’re here to support the next generation of girls in sport.

I’ve already witnessed first-hand the impact one hour with your role model or heroine can do, and to set the girls on the right path by helping them to enjoy sports and find their self-confidence is something that is so rewarding. I’m so excited to spend more time doing it.