Skip directly to content

Women in Sport

"Women in Sport Have Only Function - To Crown the Winner"

Article by Jocelyn Retamal E., Mg. in Sport Medicine, Chile

If today we see a headline like this, we would probably think that it is a macho joke and the most optimistic would laugh it off as such. However, this statement was made by the founder of the modern Olympic Games (JJOO); fortunately for us, this remark remained history. And really, when we look at events like the Tour de France, maybe that's how the girls on the podium look ... like models of jerseys.

Today, sports and cycling are no longer exclusive to one genre or social elite, but have become widely popular; it is increasingly present in many facets of our life, coinciding with interests of all kinds, both individual and collective, of a political, economic or scientific nature. In the Greek world, the participation of women in the Olympic Games was prohibited; only some young and virgin women were privileged and could be spectators of the competitions, but they were not considered competitors.

Hellenic education had a balance between intellectual training and sports training; a young man began his study day exercising physically in the arena throughout the morning and studying at school in the afternoon. The girls received physical training similar to that of the boys and shared the sports facilities with the children.

In Sparta young women were trained in disciplines such as javelin throwing, races, among others, with the aim of strengthening them. Of course, they were excluded from the competitions and struggles. Their sports training was aimed at forming stronger children. Many readers will be thinking that history shows that "once again our gender is used" and they are correct, but we have to think positively, and I have the theory that thanks to these prohibitions put in the way of women, our gender has been able to develop a mental strength that has contributed greatly way to evolution and women have finally proved to be equal to men in sport. Finally we have a world tour of women on bikes, and we hope it's just the beginning. Time will of course tell...

In Olympia, at the festival of the Games of Hereos (in honor of the goddess Hera), women could demonstrate their athletic ability, but could not access the stadium during the Olympic Games. The punishment for accessing the stadium was death: the offenders were thrown from Mount Typo.

What do you think? Abusive truth ... but there is more, there is the well-known story of Kallipateria; mother of an Olympic boxer named Pisirodos who disguised as his son's coach. When Pisidoros won the tournament, the mother, in her excitement, jumped over the barrier and her condition was discovered. The perpetrators spared her life because his father, brother and son had been Olympic champions. For this to not happen again, a law was passed that required all coaches to go nude (men? ...).Now there's a thing! Imagine that today! It would certainly increase viewing figures.

The first female Olympic champion, or at least of which there is record, is the Spartan "Cinisca" for her victory in the chariot race in the year 396 BC. . After Cinisca, who repeated her triumph in the year 392 a.c. , women won in Olympia, also in equestrian events, the Euryelonian spartan in 368 BC, Belistica of Macedonia in 268 and 264 BC, the sisters Timareta and Teodota de Élide in 84 BC, and Casia Mnasítea, also local, in 153 BC

You think you have a Spartan inside right? I also think about it, and I'msure all the women who are fond of cycling!

Baron Pierre de Coubertain, founder of the modern Olympic Games, prohibited female participation however:

"Women in sports have only one function: crown the winner."

Fortunately, there were people around him who thought differently and in the Olympic Games of 1900, the participation of women in two disciplines of Golf and Tennis is included, where Charlotte Cooper, from Great Britain, was the first woman to receive an Olympic medal' and gradually our genre could be incorporated in the future Olympics, where we went from 15 representatives in the year 1900, to 4608 in the year 2008. And, every time and in different disciplines they add more!

However, for now, let's return to the issue of women in sports and, in fact, in cycling.

In the fight for equality, the bicycle has been linked to women since its inception. Cycling was always a challenge for our gender, even more so when to avoid women cycling, a series of arguments were imposed, even supported by doctors such as: infertility, abortion and also moral arguments such as sexual excitement (I know what they are thinking, and in the case that Had it been, we did not have the right to get excited !?Mmm) The truth is that the men did not agree, and they found it unfeminine, not very decent and it threatening to the family unit.

In 1896, Susan Anthony (American leader for civil rights) said that the bicycle contributed more than anything else to the emancipation of women:

"It provides a sense of freedom and security in itself" because of this the women began to call the bicycle the "Machine of freedom".(see above image)

2017 Ladies Tour of Britain

But even today, the Ladies Tour de France, and other World Tour Events are still significantly shorter than the men's event; It is almost an affirmation that women could not ride a bicycle for three weeks. Really guys! So, there is more work to be done in terms of real equality.

Our ancestors teach us that our genre has had to overcome throughout history, many prejudices and consigned stereotypes, in order to win a space in sports. At present there are numerous athletes in the world that stand out with impressive results in the sport. Sport has once again assumed the social, medicinal and cultural importance that was already imposed in ancient Greece, this time with a vision that is already more developed and supported and based on science.

In short, we are moving forward and the Movista UCI team will have a women's team by 2018! Considering that Spain has almost 2 million women who practice cycling on a regular basis, it will be a great bet. Here in South America, there is now a thriving culture in mountain biking and women's races, with both amateur and professional events held regularly and throughout the year. However, a woman in lycra can sometimes still be seen as an object of observation, instead of being an athlete.

Jocelyn Retamal, 2017, Desafio del Petroleo, Concon, Chile

Yes, we like to look elegant, attractive and why not? So let's keep pushing the limits and increase female participation in all sports and if those who disagree cannot sustain and sustain our wheel, they will finally have to accept the changes, because we are women in the "freedom machine".

There are no limits of gender, age, ethnicity, social class, beyond aesthetics and to improve our health, we can always stay and be active is the bet that makes us more attractive. And what do you expect?

Jocelyn Retamal E. Sports Medicine


  • Domingo Rodríguez Teijeiro, Covadonga Mateos Padorno,

  • María José Martínez Patiño (2004). Identity and stereotypes of women in sport an approach to historical evolution.