Veteran sports presenter Clare Balding has hailed a new wave of women broadcasters after being made a CBE.
She received the honour at Buckingham Palace on Thursday for her services to sport and charity.
Opening a black box to reveal her sky blue cross and red-ribboned medal, she said: “It’s beautiful, isn’t it? I feel very fortunate to ride on the coat-tails of wonderful athletes.”
Ms Balding began as a trainee on BBC radio in 1994 at which time she said the presence of sporting women on radio and TV paled in comparison to what it is now.
She said: “When I started in the early ’90s there were very few women who got the opportunity to report on sport or be regarded as an expert pundit.
“Now there are fantastically good reporters and presenters out there.
“You need the gatekeepers to give people a chance and we therefore get more variety and other things said and the way it is said.
“It’s about representation and understanding that there are lots of different types of people.”
Asked about the brightest highlight of her career, she said: “London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics and the fact that the Paralympics were parallel to the Olympics in the way they were planned and the attendance of fans, it was amazing.”
Ms Balding said she was currently working on a few books. There have also been rumours she will take over from Sue Barker in presenting Wimbledon.
When asked if this was true, she laughed and said: “Next year will be an interesting one.
“I have got a few books in the pipeline and I will certainly be doing some tennis in the summer.”
Lauren Steadman, who was made MBE for services to triathlon, said it was an “honour” to be at the Palace today after earning gold at the Tokyo Paralympics 2020.
She said: “It’s just as special as when I stood on the podium and got the gold medal.”
Asked how the Paralympics and the success of its athletes impacted disabled people beyond sport, she said: “A young child born now would have a very different experience to me because we know the Paralympics and who is in it.
“Anybody who is at home thinking there are barriers … there are no barriers.”
She said she was already looking forward to the next challenge where she plans to become Team GB’s first female Para Nordic skier.
Also to be honoured by the Princess Royal on Thursday was Alexis Bowater, who has worked for more than a decade to help reduce violence against women after becoming a victim of stalking herself.
She said: “I feel really blessed that I have been invested today by the Princess Royal, whose mother gave me an OBE for services to the safety and equality of women.
“There is nothing more powerful than sisterhood and I am overwhelmed that it was her mother who gave this to me and she was the one who pinned it on.”
Asked if the UK was a safer place for women now than a decade ago, she said: “No. There are lots of things which still need to be done.
“We achieve these things through teamwork and perseverance.”
Others who received OBEs included Thandiwe Newton, for services to film and charity, Hannah Mills, for services to sailing and the environment, and Michael Foreman, for services to literature.