Serena Guthrie column: England netballer on International Women's Day

Serena Guthrie
Guthrie believes 'motivating someone to believe they can achieve their dreams is an honour'

In her latest column to coincide with International Women's Day, Commonwealth gold medallist and Team Bath centre Serena Guthrie talks about why celebrating women is so important, how the England Lionesses have inspired her, and who her sporting idol is.

International Women's Day is an important date in the calendar for me, especially as a woman in a position to influence young girls.

It is a great way to celebrate women all over the world and their achievements in different industries.

As an athlete, it is nice to be part of it all - even in a small way - and I take being a role model seriously.

I want to be inspiring the next generation, and the fact I'm privileged enough to motivate someone to believe they can achieve their dreams or help them to keep pushing through hard times is an honour.

But it's also quite a fun role and it's great to be able to use my experience and get my viewpoints across to young people.

I've stepped out on the international netball court and been able to achieve my goal. It's important for everyone to have ambition in life and to find their passion.

Why not celebrate women?

Serena Guthrie meets fans at a Team Bath game
'It's great having a day we can get behind that has real meaning and depth'

I know some people may not like the idea of having an international day for women, but to them I'd say 'why not?'

If you look at the treatment of women who came before us, history shows we haven't always had rights - we haven't always been able to do the things we wanted to.

There have been times when, unfortunately, opportunities haven't come our way simply because we are female.

This is one of the reasons IWD exists - to celebrate the history and how far we have come.

And that's a great thing, having something we can get behind that has real meaning and depth.

Denise Lewis is my idol

Denise Lewis
Denise Lewis won Olympic gold in the heptathlon at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney

Denise Lewis is someone I idolised as a child. Her presence on the world stage and seeing her perform as an athlete made me think, 'yeah, I want to be like her'.

The moment in the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast when she gave the England netball squad our gold medals - that was a highlight of my career.

What I also like about Denise is her character - she's always someone I remember standing out, someone with a certain strength about her, and that was someone I wanted to try and emulate.

I've also got some pretty good role models within my family. The Guthries are very strong, powerful, opinionated people, so I was brought up to be very strong and stubborn.

I'm proud of where I've come from and, for me, part of IWD is recognising how I've been brought up - my family are part of who I am now.

Lionesses believe, and win...

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Highlights: Japan 0-3 England

The Lionesses are a fantastic group and to be witnessing what they are doing right now around IWD is brilliant.

I could not be happier that they did so well over in America in the SheBelieves Cup, a tournament they won by beating Japan 3-0 in the final round-robin game.

It's interesting to see how people are surprised that the players and coaches think they are capable of pulling off something special - that baffles me.

When the England netball squad hung out with the football Lionesses, I noticed within the first five minutes that this is a group of women who believe in each other.

So, to see them out there doing their thing and beating some seriously classy opposition - and doing it convincingly - is pretty inspirational. I will be following them throughout the World Cup, too.

I'm really excited for them. They continue to break the mould and not just within their own sport - and that is what IWD is all about.

Serena Guthrie was speaking to BBC Sport's Denise Evans

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