Forty years ago the first women were allowed to run the marathon in the Olympics and this year marks the 40th anniversary of the formation of Women in Sport.

To celebrate the steps women have taken in sport in the past 40 years, and to promote women and girls’ participation in sport, 40 girls in Year 8 collectively ran, skipped or wheelchair raced 40 kilometres in a ‘WOMArathon’ challenge at Midhurst Rother College.

Alex Danson-Bennett, former hockey player and Olympic gold medalist, ran alongside the girls as Sports Ambassador for United Learning. The event launched PARIS 2024, United Learning’s new initiative across its schools which aims to promote sport and active lifestyles with activities inspired by the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Alex said: “It was absolutely fabulous to be at Midhurst Rother College launching PARIS 2024 with some amazing young women.

“Involvement in sports and being active is so important for all of us – it gives us a sense of pride and achievement, engages us as part of a team and makes us happy. But it can be heartbreaking to hear the national statistics about the drop-off in girls’ participation rates as they get older. 

“That’s why opportunities like this are so brilliant to inspire and engage with these girls and ensure they can be positive influencers within their own lives and community.” 

More than one million girls who said they were sporty at primary school lose interest in physical activity as teenagers, according to a new survey by Women in Sport.