WHAT a week for British women. Medal success book-ended the first seven days of the Winter Olympics in Sochi and two other sports have accorded a timely hike to women.

Sometimes in sport you’d just not think women comprised half the population, such is the scarce representation they enjoy and the scarcer coverage their particular accomplishments receive by the media, provided of course it’s not women’s rugby union.

Like its male counterparts there always appears ample recognition of the 15-a-side code, no matter what gender.

However, developments this week in other sports would suggest there is a swelling tidal swing, if not an entire sea-change. And that is as welcome as it is long-awaited and deserved.

I doubt there will ever be a time when football, rugby union or rugby league will be treated equally in its varying male and female versions. Certainly there will never be occasions when those sports will feature both sexes in the one team on a professional level.

The exception so far has been golf, but women taking on men in the same competition has been rare.

But it’s in other sports where significant steps have been taken this week to raise the profile of women’s activities.

Swiss-based Grand Prix racing team Sauber have zipped closer to ending Formula One’s long wait for a female driver.

Home-grown Simona De Silvestro has been appointed an affiliated driver, which will see the 25-year-old initially involved in a preparation programme with the team.

Her work will include on-track testing, simulator training, plus the gruelling mental and physical preparation so as to gain the necessary super licence that will allow her to compete in F1.

Closer to Blighty, the England and Wales Cricket Board are proving to be one of those rare sporting bodies which are governing with authority and no little substance.

First, the ECB shed the discordant Kevin Pietersen from the England set-up, then they appointed former combative batsman Paul Collingwood to its national coaching team, and then this week sanctioned enough funding to enable the successful England women’s team to operate as professionals.

As former women’s cricket stalwart Clare Connor, a one-time England skipper, reflected, the cash backing is a far cry from when she and current national captain Charlotte Edwards had to buy their own blazers for a tour to India more than a decade ago.

This winter, the women have consistently outshone their male counterparts returning from Australia with the Ashes after an impressive tour.

Hailing the success of the women’s team, ECB chairman Giles Clarke declared it as “a real bright spot” in an otherwise gloomy winter.

He added: “They have been outstanding role models for a generation of girls and women.”

His fervent hope was the team would become the best-paid in British women’s team sports. No wonder Edwards declared the day as one “she never imagined” would happen in her lifetime.

Let’s not forget too how on the York front, Lucy Staniforth, the daughter of former York City favourite Gordon Staniforth, has now signed up to the Liverpool women’s football team.

Last season the Reds gathered in the national women’s league title, breaking a monopoly enjoyed by Arsenal Ladies for a decade.

The upsurge in women’s sport is a paradox as, after last summer’s Olympic Games in London, an expected peak in women’s sporting participation never materialised.

Surveys which showed as much pointed that there were too few world-class personalities like Jessica Ennis-Hill, Rebecca Aldington and Christine Ohurugou to act as examples.

But if persuading school girls to remain with sport, return to sport, or take up sport once their formal education has ended is proving troublesome, there are role models and success stories out there.

And now from the unlikely setting of a snow-bound Russian resort in Krasnodar Krai, the ice-breaking bronze medal success of Jenny Jones in the women’s snowboard was followed up by yesterday’s scintillating golden triumph of Lizzy Yarnold in the women’s skeleton.

She led through all four rounds of a sport in which competitors hurtle around a labyrinthine wall of impenetrable ice aboard what is nothing more than a drinks tray with hand rails.

Lizzy Yarnold – Olympic champion. Utter madness, utterly magnificent and another zip-fast boost to women’s sport.


• WILL the FA get out of their ivory tower and do something about motormouth Jokey Gobino?

Ahead of the weekend’s FA Cup ties, the self-annointed “happy, special one” – more like tedious one to this column – dissed Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

After the Gunners boss said the Premier League title was Chelsea’s to lose and that anyone (like Mourinho) who claimed their team were not in the race did so out of fear of failure, the Portuguese man-of-bore, right, bristled: “He is a specialist in failure. I’m not. Eight years without a piece of silverware, that’s failure.”

Wenger’s reign at Arsenal includes a title-winning term in which his team did not get beat once; 16 successive seasons in the Champions League; and completing a transition to a new stadium and still remaining debt-free – all this without an oligarch benefactor.

That sure is a lot of failure.