Women have been competing in the Olympics for more than 100 years. They competed for the first time in the 1900 Paris Olympics. According to www.olympic.org of 997 athletes, 22 were women. They competed in five sports including tennis, sailing, and croquet.
At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, there are estimated to be 11,520 athletes competing and more than 45% of them are women - so about 5,000 women. Quite a change since 1900.
What hasn't changed enough is that women athletes are still described by their age, appearance, and marital status rather than their athletic accomplishments. When Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu set a new world record in the 400 meter individual medley - the camera swung to her husband and a commentator said "...there's the person responsible for her performance." What?
Sure - good coaching is important, but no one swims it but you. Read more.
As more women play sports, I hope these attitudes will change. Have you experienced challenges as you've competed in your sport or just joined a backyard volleyball game? You can tell us about it in the comment section or visit us on Facebook.
Here's more on my own journey toward confidence in sports (continued from this blog.)
My Journey toward Confidence
Things began to change for me on one biking trip to the mountains. Out on the trail, I was behind my husband and son as usual. We rode down a rock-strewn, rutted single track section and had to climb back up the next hill. They stopped to wait for me, as they often did. But that time, something new rose in me. Somewhere inside myself I found a new level of confidence that was all my own. I realized that I didn’t need to compete, but I did have a great reserve of strength and courage.
I began to pedal hard and fast up the hill. I could see I was going to need momentum to make it to the top. I felt a burst of energy and peddled, harder and faster. I realized I was making a noise I’d only made once before - when my son was being born. It was a combination of a grunt and a groan and something else unworldly. Maybe you’ve heard tennis pros make such a guttural sound on the court, when serving the ball.
Grunting and panting, I passed both my husband and my son, who stood looking on in amazement. I didn’t stop at the top of the hill, either. I kept going until the trail ended another mile away. A few minutes later, the two of them rode up. They were trying to figure out what happened. They asked “Did you see a bear?” I didn’t know how to explain exactly what happened, so all I said was “no.”
After that day, I realized that although I could keep up with my son and my husband, I didn’t need to prove myself every time we went out on the trail. I had the right to ride my bike and be outdoors in a way that was enjoyable for me. I didn’t want to compete all the time. When we went to the mountains the next time, I agreed to ride just one mountain bike trail with the two of them per summer vacation. If they wanted to ride another day, they could do so on their own and I would go hiking instead. This also became our pattern in winter, one day of downhill skiing, and then I was off to hike the winter woods alone.