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Women In the Olympics: Evolution Over a Century

By HERWriter
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evolution of women in the Olympics over the last century JupiterImages/Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock

Women were on the outs from the Olympics starting from Day One. It was Men Only, naked and unashamed.

Married women who might be tempted to sneak in were looking at the death penalty if they got caught. They could sponsor horses in the equestrian competitions but they'd have to hear about it second-hand. From a man.

With that kind of genesis perhaps it should not have been surprising that when the Olympics got a new lease on life in 1896, things were no better the second time around.

Women were still kept out for the first few years, until the Paris Games that took place in 1900. Things took an interesting turn, when 11 women not only were allowed to spectate, but to participate in the rugged sports of lawn tennis and golf.

- In 1908, women entered the figure skating and tennis competitions and in 1912, they dove into several swimming competitions.

- By 1912, gold medals had been awarded to Frances Clytie Rivett-Carnac and Fanny Durack.

- By 1928, women had made their way into women's athletics, gymnastics, and the 88 m race. In that year, women were then banned from the 88 m because a few of them had collapsed during that race.

- In 1948, Dutch competitor Fanny Blakers-Koen became not only the first mom to win a medal at the Olympics, she walked away with four golds.

- By 1952, the equestrian competitions were infiltrated by the women.

- In 1956, Italy's Giuliana Chenal-Minuzzo was the first woman to have the honor of taking the athlete's oath at the Olympic Opening Ceremony.

- 1968 was the year that Mexico's Enriqueta Basilio lit the Olympic flame, the first woman to ever fulfill this role. The 200 m race for women was reinstated that year, making a total of five women's sports for the games held in England. The games in Mexico offered six sports for women.

- In 1973, women cleared an important hurdle when they were granted the right to become members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

- By 1981, more and more women were joining the IOC, and even getting into the IOC executive.

- Between 1994 and 1996, the Olympics went from an offering of 25 women's events to 26 sports and 97 events.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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