Early Female Olympic Athletes
Today, women athletes compete in a variety of events in the Olympic Games. However women weren’t always allowed to participate in the Games. In fact, they weren’t allowed to participate in the Olympics until 1900. Women competitors in the early history of the Olympic Games helped to pave the way for today’s successful female athletes. Each woman who competed in the early years of the Olympic Games has her own story of triumph over challenges. The following looks at a few of the famous women athletes who occupy the early history of the Olympic Games.
For many reasons, ice skater Sonja Henie is one of the most recognizable women in the history of the Olympics. Sonja Henie was born in Oslo, Norway in 1912. Her accomplishments in the Olympic event of ice skating earned her three gold medals in 1928, 1932, and 1936. Sonja Henie’s imaginative ice skating performances pleased audiences as well as Olympic judges. Later, Sonja Henie brought her athletic as well as acting talents to the big screen. Sonja Henie’s work in Hollywood brought even more attention to the talents of women athletes.
Multi-talented is an apt description of Olympian Mildred ‘Babe’ Didrickson. The javelin throw, hurdles, and the high jump were just a few of the sports she excelled in. In the Olympic Games of 1932 she won gold medals in all three of those events. Babe Didrickson also had tremendous talents in basketball and golf. In 1950, the determination and athletic talents of Babe Didrickson earned her the title of ‘Woman Athlete of the Half Century’. Babe Didrickson is a notable woman in the history of the Olympic Games who didn’t allow tradition or prejudice to stop her from competing in the sports she loved.
American Gertrude Ederle made her mark in the early Olympic Games in the event of swimming. She participated in the 1924 Olympic Games and won a gold medal in a team relay freestyle competition. Gertrude also won two bronze medals for other swimming relay races. Aside from her accomplishments in the Olympics, Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim the English Channel in 1926. Gertrude took her love of swimming to award-winning heights.
Helen Wills Moody was an accomplished tennis player who proved her skills in the 1924 Olympic Games. She earned two gold medals in the Olympics. Before competing in the Olympics, Helen accomplished a lot on the tennis court. She won the women’s singles title in 1923 which turned out to be the first of six wins. In all, Helen Wills Moody has won 31 Grand Slams. Helen Wills Moody is another ideal example of a woman who took her skills and athletic talents to the Olympic Games to compete on behalf of her country.
For further information on women who competed in the early Olympic Games, please check out:
- Women and the Olympic Games
- Information on Two Women Who Were Early Olympic Swimmers
- A Timeline that Includes Women in the Olympics
- Gymnast Nadia Comaneci
- Life of Babe Didrikson
- Biographical Information on Sonja Henie
- Olympian Gertrude Ederle
- Athlete Helen Willis Moody
- A Notable Olympian
- Profile of Sonja Henie, Olympic Skater