Jules Langeard grew up professionally within the extreme sports industry as a photographer and then a film maker. He traveled the world to cover events and make corporate videos. Worked in the fashion industry in London during his first years at university and he is now finishing a Masters degree in Photojournalism and documentary photography at London College of Communication. Studying online allows him to work and study from everywhere in the world. This is his third year working as a freelancer for Leica Mayfair and is using a Leica M-P (Typ 240) with a 35mm Summilux f/1.4 Jules feels the need to document and tells stories after 6 years reporting sport performances only.
Women in Action Sports:
Women in Action Sports is a feminist project about women athletes that do not always have a fair situation regarding their performance. The project aims to cover a broad range of sports in different countries to get a wide vision of female athletes positions in their respective sport. Further it mirrors the female situation in the action sport industry. Globally, the sports industry invests less money in women and their position in sports is tricky. Contrary to men, women athletes are not only recognised for their skills, when they are. Female athletes face issues such as pressure from social media or political restrictions to practice their sport.
Through a series of photo essays, this project will explore different issues that female athletes can face, from everywhere in the world and in different action sports.
The first photo-essay of this project tells the story of Tracey Hannah, professional Mountain Bike Downhill racer athlete. Tracey stood up for her and for the other girls at some point of her career. Tracey won her first BMX race during National Championships at 4years old. Since then she rode mountain bikes and became the best in the World in 2006.
“I started riding when I was three and half years old, influenced by my older brothers and my dad. It’s something I liked to do.”
Tracey’s dad always helped her out with training, racing advices and he also arranged a gym in his backyard. Tracey is living with her parents in Cairns which is ideal budget wise but can be overwhelming sometimes.
“I am a bit comfortable, I live in Cairns, Queensland Australia, with my parents. I’m not home often, it is a bit expensive and I got used to living at home”
At the highest level of competition in the world only 22% of the athletes are a female.
“When I first started racing BMX I had only ever raced in the boys class because I was the only girl. Growing up racing in Cairns I was the only girl racing downhill so I always raced in with the boys. Australia is not as big in mountain bikes as other countries but I think it got a slow start and it will get there eventually.”
Until 2006 female’s prize money at a World Cup event was 30% less than men. But racing overseas from Australia can be pretty expensive. In 2008 Tracey could not get a proper sponsorship, a paid contract, because the industry was only investing a little bit of money on women athletes mostly from Europe or the US.
“It was pretty hard to get sponsored a few years ago as a girl racer. And it’s so far to travel the world from Australia, especially Cairns. Getting sponsored was just not possible. I saw heaps of girls riding for free and just taking parts or whatever they can get rather than standing up for themselves and saying what they worth and the money that they deserves so I just didn’t bother with racing then. I stood up for myself, I thought that more girls should stand up for themselves and then you can make a difference in this sport and we can get paid better. But I guess I kind of did it on my own and I just said I’m not gonna ride like that, it’s not fair, you are just getting ripped off.”
So she stood up for the girls and totally stopped racing internationally. She wanted to make a statement that it doesn’t make sense when you are top in the world not to be able to live of it whereas men could. She got offered a proper contract 5 years after retiring, on the same team as Mick, her brother. In every professional team racing, when there is a woman athlete, there is only one.
“I guess I will stop racing in the next 5 years or so. (..) I really love this industry and I know a lot about it now and I want to help the younger generation of female riders to get to where I have gotten to.”
Tracey’s racing results speaks for herself: she is on top of her sport. She won 11 times the National Championships, a Junior World champion title in 2006 and finished 3rd at the World cup series in 2015 as well as 3rd at the World championships.
“It is really nice to have something that stays with you forever. You have that medal hanging up and no one can ever take that of you so that’s pretty special.
The proudest moment was when I won a World Cup. There is not much like winning a World Cup. Third in the world is awesome and getting good overall is awesome but the best title is when you can say you won something.”
The off-season (October to March) is the hardest part of the year: it’s when athletes analyses the mistakes from the past season and work on the next one.
“If you wanna call yourself an athlete then train like an athlete and be like an athlete. I look up to whoever trains the most and the hardest, women and men. The hard workers.”
Tracey goes through a lot of challenging physical exercises and mental doubts over this period.
“I look forward to the goals that I want to achieve and keep memories of the ones in the past but I aim for the future.”