The Female Athletes Who Organised Their Own Olympics…

Soudi Masouleh

Re-publishing this brilliant article first written By Jules Boykoff and Published on March 18, 2019 at 12:00pm by

I’m deep in research mode right now. We just completed our Spring / Summer collections and I managed to squeeze in some down-time (albeit two days!). And now the design process starts again…. what’s the next hook?, how is this collection (the brand, the DNA) going to evolve next?

I’m a women’s performance sportswear designer, I’ve been in this industry for more than 25yrs and I’m a firm believer that sport (especially for women) is critical for mental and physical health…. so designing for sport is truly important for me… These ladies are legends, why did I not know this? Thank you, thank you, thank you…

Soudi masouleh

“The Olympics is a not a neutral event. Although Olympic organizers like to present the Games as an apolitical celebration, the way the Olympics are structured reflect the ideals of the elites who are most involved with organizing the event. As we approach the kickoff of the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro on August 5, it’s worth examining gender dynamics in the Games’ history—particularly looking at how female athletes were largely excluded from the Olympics for years as well as the often-overlooked activism of women who fought to compete internationally.”

“In the early 1900s, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) only allowed women to compete in a handful of events. Only 22 women took part in the games held in 1900. But in the early 1900s a worldwide women’s movement was demanding political inclusion, with some success. As women gained the right to vote in Europe, Russia, and the United States, behind the scenes, some IOC members were quietly moving to expand women’s participation. But IOC President Baron Pierre de Coubertin was implacable, angling for the continued marginalization of women’s sports. After the 1912 Stockholm Games, he and many of his IOC colleagues believed “an Olympiad with females would be impractical, uninteresting, unaesthetic and improper.”

Swimming was one of the few sports women could compete in at the 1912 Olympic games, where the United Kingdom team (above) took home gold. Frustrated at their exclusion from many Olympic events, female athletes organized their own games from 1922 to 1934. (Photo credit: Creative Commons)

“The 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam was the first time that doubled the number of female participants: almost 300 women took part in the Games, thanks largely to the inclusion of a small slate of women’s track and field events. However, citing medical “evidence,” the IOC ruled after the Amsterdam Games that the 800-meter run was too dangerous. In Amsterdam, after completing the race, a number of competitors fell to the turf to regain their strength. Anti-feminists pounced at the opportunity, arguing that women were too frail to run such distances, and quite remarkably their views won out. Women were not allowed to compete in the 800-meter run until the 1960 Olympics in Rome. Still, in 1928 women comprised about 10 percent of all Olympic athletes.”…….

The first Women’s Olympics in 1922 were largely a success. More than 20,000 people attended the single day of competition at Paris’s Stade Pershing, where athletes from five countries (Britain, Czechoslovakia, France, Switzerland, and the United States) competed in 11 events, more than twice as many as the IOC would include when it finally allowed more women’s track and field events in 1928.

Enter Alice Milliat, a French athlete and activist whose bold actions scythed a path for women’s participation in the Games. After the exclusion of women from track and field in Antwerp, Milliat founded the Fédération Sportive Féminine Internationale (FSFI) on October 31, 1921. At its first meeting, the group voted to establish a Women’s Olympics as an alternative to the male-centric Games. In total four Women’s Games were staged, in 1922 (Paris), 1926 (Gothenburg, Sweden), 1930 (Prague), and 1934 (London), with participants coming mostly from North America, Western Europe, and Japan.
Rower Alice Milliat, seen here in 1913, fought for women to compete at the Olympics (Photo credit: Creative Commons)