HomeInterviewAustralia’s First Female Commonwealth Games Chef de Mission, Petria Thomas On Women In Sport

Australia’s First Female Commonwealth Games Chef de Mission, Petria Thomas On Women In Sport

Australia’s First Female Commonwealth Games Chef de Mission, Petria Thomas On Women In Sport

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ustralia’s first female Chef de Mission for the Commonwealth Games, and former Olympic and Commonwealth Games icon, Petria Thomas, spoke to Ministry of Sport about the recent growth of women’s sport.

After the recent announcement from the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee that there will be two more medal events for women than men for the first time in Commonwealth Games history, Thomas said there are ‘encouraging’ signs for women’s sport.

“It’s a great milestone that will be achieved in Birmingham, having two more medal events for women then there is for men,” Thomas told Ministry of Sport.

“It’s been a long time coming to get that parity, and I think it will be a terrific achievement for the organisers who have obviously worked closely with international federations to make this happen.

“It’s great and it’s really encouraging for women’s sport.

“It shouldn’t even really be a thing, but it is, and it’s great that there is starting to be more parity in events around the world.

“The Commonwealth Games movement is really leading the way, not just for women’s sport, but for the para-sport programs that are a part of the Games as well.

“It’s great to be involved in the Commonwealth movement and I think they are doing some great things in this space,” she said.

When asked what this announcement means for up-and-coming female athletes, Thomas said the more opportunities that are created for young women and girls in sport, the stronger the industry will grow.

“It shows all young female athletes that they’re valued, and that’s obviously really important that there are more avenues for young female athletes to represent their country,” Thomas said.

“Hopefully over time, the public, the media, and the sponsors can see that women’s sport is a great product by itself.

“Anything that gives young women and girls more opportunities to achieve their dreams and play sport is a great thing,”

Speaking generally about the growth of women’s sport in Australia and around the rest of the world, Thomas said it will be a long and slow process, but it is on the right track.

“It’s definitely going in the right direction, but it’s a really slow process unfortunately,” Thomas said.

“A lot of it is around cultural change and ending a lot of unconscious bias that people don’t even realise.

“There’s not outwards discrimination in terms of female sport, not as much as there used to be.

“It’s a slow cultural change that does take time but having major events like the Commonwealth Games having two more medal events for women is really positive and hopefully that trend continues around the world in other sports and events.

“Hopefully, we can see steady growth for opportunities in women’s sport; we have to be realistic that cultural change takes time.

“If we keep seeing positive growth and more opportunities available, hopefully we can keep going in that positive trajectory,” she said.

The three-time Olympic gold medallist, Thomas, also told Ministry of Sport she is proud and excited to continue the legacy of previous Commonwealth Games Chef de Mission’s for Australia.

“I’m very proud to be the first female Chef de Mission for the Australian Commonwealth Games team and hope that I can follow in the footsteps of past Chef de Mission’s that have done a great job for Australia,” Thomas told Ministry of Sport.

“I was lucky to work alongside Steve Moneghetti at the last three Commonwealth Games and learnt a lot from him.

“I’m not Steve and I will do things slightly different to Steve, but there’s an excellent tradition to uphold in terms of leading the team in a really good way and I’m just hoping I will be able to achieve that,” she said.

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