Rebecca Wilson was a guide on the trail she blazed for female sports journalists.

By Jennifer Browning

This morning we woke to the sad news that Daily Telegraph sports journalist Rebecca Wilson had died at the young age of 54 after a battle with breast cancer.

Funny, gutsy, one of a kind, tough, fearless, forthright, dedicated, determined and courageous are just some of the words being used in countless tributes to describe this great lady.

As a female sports journalist I owe a lot of my career to Bec, who was one of several ‘trail blazers’ who helped level the playing field.

Without her and colleagues including Debbie Spillane and Jacquelin Magnay, we would not have the opportunities we have today.

Because of people like Bec Wilson no longer are there any barriers when covering sport, particularly rugby league for female journalists.

Since moving to Sydney five years ago, I have been amazed by how many female reporters there are covering rugby league and are involved at club and management levels.

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Press conferences are neutral territory and there is not an ‘us and them’ mentality with our male colleagues anymore.

I first met Bec in 2009 at a lunch with then-NRL chief executive David Gallop celebrating Women in League round.

Only a few weeks later I was covering the Bathurst 1000 and I had planned to catch up with her and husband John Hartigan. They happened to be showing Fox Sports executive David Hill the V8 product as he was interested in taking it to the USA.

Bec introduced me as a “rising star” on the Sydney sports scene. The next month I was in New York City on holidays and got to meet David Hill again and attended the Yankees’ World Series opening game.

This was Bec; so proud and encouraging of all the female sports reporters following in her footsteps, carving a path for themselves in the world of sports journalism.

She always had time to a chat, a text or a debrief over a wine at the Four In Hand in Paddington.

As her husband John Hartigan so aptly put it in his statement following her death: “She proved that women had an equally important role in sports journalism as her male counterparts. We dearly love and miss our Bec.”

This post originally appeared on ABC News.


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