Wales and Team GB had a very good Olympics in Tokyo, giving us all a much needed lift after a year like no other.

The early morning alarms were worth it as copious gold, silver and bronze flowed across the disciplines.

For Welsh athletes, it was a record breaking haul. 11 athletes contributed to eight medals in total. More interestingly for me, Wales’ women had a particularly successful time.

Six of our medallists are females. Two of Wales’ three golds were won by Lauren Price and Hannah Mills, Lauren Williams and Elinor Barker won silver, and Leah Wilkinson and Sarah Jones brought home bronze medals in hockey.

I am pleased beyond belief that that star-studded line up has shut one particular group in society up for a while.

Nothing annoys me more in sport then hearing the whingers who say “I can’t watch women’s sport”.

They usually follow it up with a comparison to male sports and add something like “it’s just not as physical, competitive or exciting”.

Over the last three weeks, I’ve not heard a peep from them as they’ve celebrated Wales’ record haul. We know very few of them would have the bottle to say it to Lauren Price or Lauren Williams’ faces, but at the moment, it’s nice not to hear them behind their keyboards as well.

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For me, Tokyo 2021 has proved an important point, in Wales as much as anywhere. Women’s sport is just as watchable as men’s. When it’s successful and treated with respect, it is arguably even more watchable and entertaining.

At quarter to seven last Sunday, nobody was switching over to watch the men’s water polo as Lauren Price was counterpunching her way to gold.

As well as providing a gold plated antidote to the trolls, the lesson to take from this is that when the media treats women’s sport with parity and when it’s put on an even footing with men, it can perform well and win the hearts and minds of a nation.

If you hide women’s events behind a red button, on some obscure online stream, or bury it deep in a schedule, you can’t expect it to do as well as the male sports that you are hyping up every second of the day.

Those who hadn’t already, have now fallen in love with our successful Tokyo Olympians. Look at the scenes in Ystrad Mynach this week when the town flooded onto the streets, welcomed back their champ and painted their phone box gold.

Nobody cared that she was a woman not a man, she was simply Ystrad and Wales’ hero.

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Of course, our current cohort are nothing new. Welsh women have been smashing it for decades. The names Tanni Grey-Thompson, Jade Jones and Nicole Cooke flow off the tongue.

Outside Wales, we have been worshipping female athletes since they were preposterously granted permission to compete. Kelly Homes, Serena Williams and Jess Ennis-Hill have now been joined by Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles, and their messages and examples outside their sports are more important than ever.

We must all now follow up our Olympic fever with prolonged and sustained action moving forward. I would like to see more female sports on our televisions and radios.

I love how FA Wales and the WRU have united their teams under one banner (‘Cymru/Wales), but they must now treat them with equal respect beyond the communications campaigns and through to the grassroots of the games.

It’s on news organisations such as us here at The National to say “Yes, that is a top story” and “yes that should go on the back page” when it comes to female sport.

Lastly, this isn’t just some celebration of women’s sport for women’s sake. During the week, broadcasters interviewed two young boys in Ystrad Mynach about what Lauren Price’s victory means to them. They said it has inspired them to work even harder when they go to rugby training this week. That is powerful.

I want Wales’ next generation to be inspired by all people, not just those they identify with. After all, regardless of class, colour or gender, we are all Team Wales.

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