When we talk about sports, the recent Olympics have brought many laurels for the human civilization where both man and woman competed as equals and participation of women in various sports and games have become a trivial or a normal phenomenon.
But, have we ever wondered how it all began and women were started to be seen on the field and competed proudly with their male counterparts?
It all began in the 19th century and sports-related activities were not restricted to women of the upper classes and they actively enjoyed horseback riding, golf, archery, tennis etc.
Also read: Another feather in Indian Sports: Chirag Yadav to represent India at 2021 Asian Men’s Volleyball Championship in Japan
Women athletes first made their presence known in the second Olympics Games in 1900 and only 12 female athletes participated, according to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and competed in only two events; golf and tennis.
It comes across as surprising as golf for women in India seemed like a foreign topic and the stupendous performance by India’s Aditi Ashok in the Tokyo Olympics woke the country to its existence. In the 3rd Olympics, only archery was open to female participation.
The 4th London Olympics took the efforts up a notch and female athletes competed in archery, figure skating and tennis and thereafter, they became “feminine sport”. The 5th Olympics also opened swimming, diving and tennis for female athletes.
The 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games was particularly historic for India as India’s Nilima Ghose, the then 17-year-old sprinter, participated in the Olympics for the very first time. On July 21, 1952, Nilima became the first Indian woman to participate in the Olympics.
The then 20-year old sprinter Mary D’Souza Sequeira, who competed in the women’s 100m and 200m events is another such name that went down in history in colours. She also became one of the fastest runners in Asia. Swimmers Dolly Nazir and Arati Saha also managed to etch their names in history with their appearance at the 1952 Olympics.
If we observe the recent Olympics, we see that the gap between male and female participation is much smaller as the Basic Act on Sport rightly stated, “Sport is a universally shared human culture”. However, there are still many milestones to be achieved.