So what is the legacy of the WAAA? The name may have gone, but women’s athletics remains and grows, with participation by women in athletics and running in general today as high as it has ever been.

The WAAA pushed for women’s athletics at a time when many were at best indifferent and several actively hostile to the inclusion of women in the sport.

Ignoring the fears that athletics would create unladylike or “manly women”, the threats that athletics and motherhood were incompatible, and the predictions that no-one would be interested in women’s athletics, the WAAA created an organisation and structure that allowed women to compete and succeed, not just on the track but as officials and coaches too. They provided leadership and a way forward.

Today women compete at the highest levels in athletics, they are coaches, team managers, commentators, administrators, and executives. While other sports are only now finally beginning to get their women’s programmes in order athletics has led the way, but without the tenacity of the WAAA this would not have been the case.

Perhaps the legacy of the WAAA can best be summed up by a prophecy made by Kelly Sotherton, Olympic, World, Commonwealth and European medallist, turned coach, England team captain, and sports administrator when she won the Isle of Wight 800m and long jump title aged 10 in 1986:

               I want to be the world’s best at both of these

She saw no barriers. She did it.

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