Donna Raynor striving to have greater representation of women across sport
Donna Raynor believes it is vital that women are shown that you do not have to be an athlete to become involved in sport at the very highest levels as strives for greater female representation.
Raynor, the former president of the Bermuda National Athletics Association and the island’s chef de mission for the Commonwealth Games, held in Birmingham, England this year, was speaking on the issue ahead of the Bermuda Olympic Association hosting a “Women in Formation” event at Tucker’s Point on Saturday.
The sold-out event, aimed at celebrating women in sport in Bermuda, will involve prominent figures such as elite cyclist Caitlin Conyers, former Olympians Katura Horton-Perinchief and Debbie Jones-Hunter, international triathlon official Patty Petty, international football referee Natasha Trott, international showjumping official Heidi Mello, archery coach Trina Roberts, former BOA president Judy Simons and Raynor herself, sharing their experiences through sport.
“This special event will include women involved in sports at all levels; elite athletes, coaches, officials, administrators and aspiring leaders,” said Raynor, chair of the BOA’s Women in Sport Committee.
“We did something similar back in 2019 that went really well and so we wanted to again highlight the amazing women we have on island and all the great things that they have done and are doing.
“We have so many women in varying positions that we thought it would be a great idea to get as many of them together and give them five or so minutes each to tell their story.
“The great thing for us is that of all the women that we approached to be involved, none of them said no, which is really amazing.
“Even though elite athletes like Dame Flora Duffy, Jessica Lewis and Emma Keane will not there be in person, due to their hectic competition schedule, they will still be involved, which is just fantastic.
“The night will also give us a chance to have a learning experience about the past to help celebrate those from before and also inspire those going forward. Our goal is to fill the room with like-minded women who seek to support, encourage, learn and inspire. We plan to make this a fun-filled night of learning.
“We might see coverage of these women and pay some attention to it, but when you physically see those same people telling their story, it’s incredibly inspiring.”
By having such a varied panel, Raynor is confident the evening will help to represent the options on offer to women in sport, even after they have stopped competing.
“We hope that way it will inspire other women to show them that It’s not just about a pathway as athletes, but through a number of different avenues,” added Raynor, who is Monaco for a World Athletics meeting, as part of her role on the Development Commission.
“Overall we just want to show women both young and older that you don’t have to leave sport after being an athlete, that you can stay in it and play a key role.”
Having gone through the transition from athlete to administrator herself, Raynor is vitally aware of the need of greater representation of women at the highest level of associations and boards.
“It’s vital to keep women in sport, help them develop a career and have that representation at the top level,” she said. “It’s something that is very important to me.
“At the recent Commonwealth Games, I was part of a leadership programme that had 83 young ladies on it. It was really encouraging to see that and them being given the opportunity to learn about leadership roles.
“They had a chance to see what sort of careers could be on offer and how they could develop those career options available.
“Sporting bodies and associations are implementing rules that there has to be a certain percentage amount of women on the boards. That is great to see but we have to keep trying to encourage more women into those top roles going forward.”