What was the first sport for women

100 years ago in Monte CarloWhen the "First Women's Olympic Games" opened

It was a sensation when, on March 24, 1921, around 100 women competed in Monte Carlo for the first ever Women's Olympic Games. In the garden of the casino, directly above the sea, where clay pigeons were usually shot, the International Sports Club of Monaco had prepared the lawn for ten athletics competitions. Sand pits had been dug for high and long jump, the organizers had drawn running tracks with lime and marked dropping circles and lines for the shot put and javelin throw.

Alice Milliat - "a very strong woman"

The French Alice Milliat had been the driving force behind the organization. "A very strong woman in the truest sense of the word, who was active there very early," says the sports historian Ansgar Molzberger from the German Sport University Cologne:

Originally a teacher, later also a translator, who created the first structures before the First World War. Founds a sports club that is committed to football, which is committed to athletics for women, and which then, after the First World War, professionalises these structures and expands them internationally. "

IOC founder Pierre de Coubertin said: "The Olympic Games must be reserved for men. The role of women is to crown the winners." (picture-alliance / dpa)

Tireless fighter for equality

Alice Milliat rowed, swam, and played hockey. In 1917 she was instrumental in founding a French national women's sports association. The tireless fighter for equality had repeatedly called for the admission of women to all competitions of the Olympic Games. But that could not be done with the gentlemen of the International Olympic Committee. The founding father of the modern games, Pierre de Coubertin, had rigorously rejected female athletes: "The Olympic Games must be reserved for men. The role of women is to crown the winners."

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It was the opinion of most sports officials at the time. Many doctors and psychologists claimed that sporting competition endangered childbearing and warned against masculinization.

Nevertheless, from 1900 onwards, some women were tolerated at the Olympics, for example tennis and golf or archery, in modest floor-length skirts, of course.

"The fight is due to the man"

In the athletic core competitions of the games, however, there was nothing to be done at first. Athletics was considered a martial art in which feminine grace and grace supposedly disappeared:

"The fight belongs to the man, it is alien to the nature of the woman. So away with the women's athletics championships."

So declared the German decathlete Karl Ritter von Halt. When the men’s officials refused to allow women to take part in Olympic athletics competitions in the run-up to the Antwerp Olympics in 1920, Alice Milliat organized her own Olympic women's games together with the President of the International Sports Club of Monaco, Camille Blanc. They took place for the first time from March 24th to March 31st, 1921 in Monte Carlo. Sports historian Ansgar Molzberger said:

"We know there were participants from France, Great Britain, a few athletes came from Switzerland, Italy was, I think, there too, but it was not yet a big, comprehensive festival, it is ascribed more of a local character."

The performances were convincing

But the young athletes, who ran, jumped and threw in comfortable shorts, impressed with their performances and attracted a lot of attention. The organizers had a commemorative medal minted for each participant. At the end there was another basketball game, and a group of young women demonstrated in "flowing arm and legless tunics", as the caption said, "graceful exercises in dance gymnastics."

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After the resounding success of the pilot project, Olympic women's games were held every four years from 1922 onwards. Ansgar Molzberger says they became a “competitive product” of the Olympic Games . "

Ski jumping reserved for men until 2014

The gentlemen of the Olympic rings and the officials of the international athletics federation started negotiations. They demanded the deletion of the term "Olympic" from the title of the women's games and in return they allowed women to participate in five athletics competitions at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam.

But it wasn't until 2014, at the Games in Sochi, Russia, that women conquered the last Olympic male domain and were allowed to compete in ski jumping.

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