Times have changed greatly since the 1st Olympiad, a competition where no woman was able to participate. It was during the Games of the II Olympiad, in 1900, that the women were able to compete and that tennis player Charlotte Cooper (GBR) became the first woman Olympic Champion. Though women were able to participate in a few events, they were not allowed to participate in any of the Athletics Events.
The most dramatic change came from Alice Milliat commonly referred to as the “pioneer of women’s sports in France,” had founded the Federation Sportive Feminine Internationale (FSFI) in 1921. It was after the refusal from the IAAF to host women’s athletics events in the 1924 Olympic Games that Milliat organized the Women’s Olympic Games in 1922. The Event consisted of 11 athletics events welcoming five teams. The women athletes broke 18 world records during this event. Milliat gained the IOC’s attention after this event. Upset because of the use of the “Olympic Games” the IOC and Milliat came to an agreement where she would change the name of her event to the Women’s World Games in the exchange for 10 events at the 1928 Olympic Games, five of which were athletics.
Because of pioneers like Cooper and Milliat the IAAF World Championships currently consists of 47 Events, 23 of which are women’s. The missing event in the women’s competition is the 50km Race Walk. As of now almost all of the event’s are the same, with slight variations in the distance in the 100m Hurdles (W) and 110mH (M) as well as the number of events competed in the Heptathlon (W) and the Decathlon (M).
As it stands now the Women’s Marathon World Record is just 10min 30sec behind the Men’s but the gap is quickly being narrowed. Studies have shown that the Men’s Marathon Record is being reduced bay approximately 30 seconds per every year since the first official record in 1908, while the Women’s Record is being reduced by an unprecedented 90 seconds per year since 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
Through hard work and determination the women athletes are showing that they are more than equal to their male counterparts whether it is on the track, field, or road.
Come to Daegu Stadium from 27 Aug. ~ 4 Sep. to cheer on your favorite women athletes!