Kelly Gallagher beats the world - but who cares when there's football?
What would you rather see on page one? A pair of athletic young women who have just won Britain's first skiing gold medal - or a row of mugshots? Or a breakfast television presenter who has been on the front pages half a dozen times in the past couple of weeks? Or a huddle of men in suits? Or some horses jumping out at you?
Kelly Gallagher yesterday won the Super-G event at Sochi and the picture above shows her celebrating with her guide Charlotte Evans, left. Gallagher can see very little and has to follow Evans down the course, focusing on the 'little orange dot' that is her high-viz jacket and taking instructions through headphones. Piece of cake. Not only did this pair win gold, but another British skier, Jade Etherington, took bronze with her guide Caroline Powell.
When Jenny Jones won Britain's first medal 'on snow' in the Winter Olympics last month, she was shunted off the front pages by the Duchess of Cambridge and off the back pages by Manchester United. Gallagher's achievement is greater and in a more popular sport - just look at all those panda eyes and limbs in plaster after the halfterm break - yet the coverage is even more restrained.
The Guardian and the Times were the only papers to give her a front-page presence. The Telegraph had six stories and two puffs yet still didn't find room to mention Gallagher. She makes her only appearance, right, on page 17 of the 20-page sport supplement. Didn't the word 'historic' in the headline suggest greater prominence was in order? The Sun and Mail also offered restricted coverage on the inside sports pages.
Others seemed to regard it as more a human interest story than a 'proper' sporting achievement: the Express found a little slot on page 4, cross-reffing to a skinny basement under an F1 prelim on page 63, and the Independent slim coverage on the news pages and a backgrounder in features.
The Mirror and Guardian adopted a similar approach: the Guardian followed up its front page picture with a half-page on 5, the Mirror gave the story a good page 7 lead and a leader that focused on Gallagher's disability and government welfare reforms.
So hurrah for the Times which complimented its front-page pic (albeit with the jumping women sadly cut off at the waist) with a proper spread, below. Alone among the papers, the Times recognised that this was not a patronising 'blind woman does something' story, but an important sporting milestone - Britain's first skiing gold medal in any Olympic Games. And that mindset meant it went further into all that the achievement means for future funding, inspiring others to have a go, and for national pride.
What was so difficult about that that the other editors didn't get it?
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