Sam Quek on facing misogyny for being a female Question of Sport captain: Its nice to prove people wrong
There's no doubt that Sam Quek is a determined character, having played hockey for Great Britain and clinching an Olympic gold medal in Rio. And rather than struggling with the rigours of the I'm A Celebrity jungle, she thrived, finishing in fourth place in 2016, just a few months after her Olympic triumph.
But while the 32 year old star leapt at the chance to become a new captain on TV stalwart A Question Of Sport, Sam admits that she's faced her fair share of criticism from viewers he think the team leader's chair is no place for a woman.
Talking exclusively to OK! as she and husband Tom Mairs announced that they are expecting their second child, Sam addressed the criticism that has come along with the congratulations.
She told us: "At first there was so much pressure being the first female captain. You can be accused of not knowing much about sport, so I felt was there to prove people wrong as sometimes you know a little bit more than the men!"
And the star, who at 16 had to chose between pursuing professional careers in football or hockey, revealed that it was daunting taking on the prominent role on a show she'd always dreamed of appearing on.
"There was also that pressure to fill some very big shoes as Sue [Barker], Phil [Tufnell] and Matt [Dawson] were excellent," she said. "But ultimately, the show moves on and it can’t be the same people forever, and now they’ve changed the show a little bit so it’s moved with the times. We also have a greater young audience and a greater BAME audience."
Some eyebrows have been raised by changes such as including non sporting stars taking part, with Anton du Beke and Jamie Laing among recent guests. But when it comes to the jibes over Sam's appointment, Tom leaps to his wife's defence.
"The first few weeks you have the odd misogynist saying they’re ticking boxes and being woke by hiring Sam," he said. "Sam didn’t get this job because she was ticking a box.
"She got it because she’s an absolute animal when it comes to sport. Now, the comments have changed to, 'She must be cheating because she can’t know these answers!'."
"It’s nice to prove people wrong," smiled Sam.
And it's no surprise that Sam is relishing the challenge of juggling her career with being a mum of two.
The last time OK! caught up with Olympian Sam Quek and hubby Tom Mairs, they were excitedly introducing their beautiful baby girl, Molly. And now, just seven months later, the couple are thrilled to share news of another imminent arrival.
“It’s come along quite quickly, so we were pleasantly surprised!” said the sports star turned presenter.
Sam’s due date is two weeks after Molly turns one on 2 March next year. While the little one is too young to understand what’s happening, the pair have no doubt that she will be an “amazing” big sister.
The news is also all the more special as Sam, who has been presenting on The One Show too, suffered a heartbreaking miscarriage at 10 weeks before getting pregnant with Molly.
If Sam's baby arrives early she could be looking after two children under the age of one, which is no mean feat. But for Sam and Tom the attitude is very much: 'Bring it on!'
And as she comes to the end of a life-changing year, Sam admits she has no plans to step back from her AQOS role.
"The biggest things in my life have happened in 2021. Molly was born, I had the Olympics presenting gig and being a captain on Question Of Sport, which has literally been my dream job since I was 15," she added. "But ultimately, my dream was to have a family as well and having a baby shouldn’t stop you achieving your dreams.
"I’m very fortunate to have Tom and he’s brilliant. And he has his own business, so he can be a bit more flexible. And our parents are brilliant. I quite often get asked, 'Now you’re a mum, are you going to be able to work?; and that frustrates me so much.
"It doesn’t matter what you do, every mum makes it work. Being a working mum is so important to me, especially with Molly being a girl."
A Question Of Sport airs on Fridays at 7.35pm on BBC One. For more TV gossip and celebrity interviews, sign up to OK! newsletters here.
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