They Called It ‘Improper’ to Have Women in the Olympics. But She Persisted.

In the early 20th century, the idea of women participating in the Olympics was met with skepticism and resistance. Many believed that women were too fragile and delicate to compete in such physically demanding events. However, one woman refused to back down in the face of such outdated beliefs and paved the way for future generations of female athletes.

Her name was Alice Milliat, a French athlete and feminist who fought tirelessly for women’s inclusion in the Olympic Games. In the early 1900s, women were only allowed to compete in a handful of events at the Olympics, such as tennis and figure skating. Milliat believed that women deserved the same opportunities as men to showcase their athletic abilities on the world stage.

In 1921, Milliat founded the International Women’s Sports Federation with the goal of promoting women’s sports and advocating for their inclusion in the Olympics. She organized the first Women’s World Games in 1922, which featured events such as track and field, swimming, and basketball. The success of these games proved that women were more than capable of competing at a high level in a variety of sports.

Despite her efforts, the International Olympic Committee continued to resist allowing women to compete in the Olympics. In 1928, women were finally allowed to participate in track and field events at the Amsterdam Games, but they were limited to just five events. Milliat and other female athletes were outraged at this discrimination and continued to push for full inclusion.

In 1936, Milliat’s persistence paid off when the IOC finally agreed to include women’s track and field events in the Berlin Olympics. This was a major victory for women’s sports and marked the beginning of a new era of gender equality in the Olympics.

Today, thanks to the efforts of trailblazers like Alice Milliat, women have the opportunity to compete in a wide range of sports at the Olympics. Female athletes from around the world continue to break barriers and shatter stereotypes, proving that they are just as talented and capable as their male counterparts.

Alice Milliat’s legacy lives on as a pioneer for women’s rights in sports. She refused to be silenced or sidelined by those who deemed her participation in the Olympics as “improper.” Instead, she persisted and paved the way for future generations of female athletes to follow in her footsteps.