Female athletes have risen in sports over the years, and the level of competition keeps rising. Standards are getting better, and it’s thanks to more females participating in sports than ever before. Females have risen through the sporting world in recent times, and this is the journey.
In the modern world women in sport seems pretty normal but it wasn’t always that way. The first Olympic Games held over 120 years ago didn’t feature a single woman, and it wasn’t until 1900 that the first female athletes participated.
Founder of the Olympic movement, Baron Pierre de Coubertin said the competition was created to showcase male athleticism, with “female applause as the reward.” Coubertin added that no women competed in the Ancient Games, so there would be no place for them in the modern version.
Breaking the mold
The 1900 Olympic Games were the first to have women competing, and Helene de Pourtales made history by becoming the very first female champion. De Pourtales was a part of the winning team in the 1-2 sailing event. Charlotte Cooper was the first female to win a solo gold when she won the women’s tennis tournament before going on to win the mixed doubles too.
The women at the first Olympics proved they belonged there just as much as the men and from that moment their participation levels grew. At the most recent Olympic Games in Rio, an estimated 11,000 athletes competed with around 45 percent of them being female.
Although women have been competing in sports for many years, it’s in this past 30 years or so that competition levels have really increased. Female athletes dedicate their lives to their sports, meaning they are spending as much time as possible training to become as strong as possible.
An athlete like Serena Williams has shown the way forward for female athletes as she is one of the most dedicated sports women in the world. Williams has dominated the world of tennis because she wants it more than anyone else.
Female athletes are now seen as global superstars, much like their male counterparts, and young girls all over the world aspire to be like their heroes. Then there are the female sports stars who compete against men. Women like racing driver Danica Patrick who not only drives against men every time she’s on track, but became the first woman to win an IndyCar Series race.
The opportunity for Patrick to race against men was built by a host of female stars competing against me before her. Babe Zaharias was the first female golfer allowed to play in a men’s PGA event back in 1945, while Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in 1973. Dame Ellen MacArthur became the fastest sailor to circumnavigate the globe, beating her closest competitor Francis Joyon by 1 day and 8 hours.
Female athletes have risen from being banned from the Olympics to pretty much equal representation. There are now women pushing the boundaries for their gender and are regularly competing against men.