Little Bits of History

March 24

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 24, 2017

1921: The inaugural Women’s Olympiad begins. It was the first international women’s sports event and lasted five days, from March 24 through 31. It was held in Monte Carlo at the International Sporting Club of Monaco. Two more Women’s Olympiads were held, one each year, at the same venue. The International Olympic Committee ruled that women’s events would not be included in the 1924 Olympic Games. Alice Millian and Camille Blanc organized games for the women to compete. Five nations (France, Italy, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom sent 100 athletes to participate.

France had the most athletes present with 58 and the UK had 21. The women competed in 11 different events from track and field. There were several races of various distances and relays along with high jump, long jump, standing long jump, javelin, and shot put. There were also exhibition events showing women playing basketball, gymnastic events, and pushball. France and the UK took all the gold medals in the events. The tournament was held at the Tir aux Pigeons in the gardens at the Monte Carlo Casino, a venue for gambling as the name implies, but it also serves as an entertainment complex for live theater and ballet.

These international women’s sporting events would later turn into the every-four-year women’s World Games which were organized by the International Women’s Sports Federations, also founded by Miliat. Although she worked as a professional translator, she was interested in all sports. She was, herself, a participant in the sport of rowing. She was a member of the Femina Sport, a club founded in 1911. Through her work, the Women’s Olympic Games were held in 1922, which infuriated the IOC who insisted on the sole use of the term “Olympic”. Miliats was convinced to change the name of her event after the IOC offered to add ten women’s events to the 1928 Olympic Games. The next time Miliat’s event was held, the name was changed to Women’s World Games.

The Women’s World Games were held in Paris and again only had five nations participating. France, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland were joined by Czechoslovakia and the United States. There were again, eleven events played out before a crowd of 20,000. Eighteen new world records were set. The games were held twice more with the 1930 Games in Prague and the 1934 Games in London.  The International Association of Athletics Federations took over the planning of future events after 1934.

I am building a fire, and everyday I train, I add more fuel. At just the right moment, I light the match. – Mia Hamm

We live in a world where sports have the potential to bridge the gap between racism, sexism and discrimination. The 2012 Olympic Games was a great start but hopefully what these games taught us is that if women are given an opportunity on an equal playing field the possibilities for women are endless. – Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Champions keep playing until they get it right. – Billie Jean King

In sports, you simply aren’t considered a real champion until you have defended your title successfully. Winning it once can be a fluke; winning it twice proves you are the best. – Althea Gibson

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