By Stan Greenberg
Last updated 2011-03-03
Women first competed in the Olympic Games in 1900, in the tennis programme, although there were women on some of the larger boats in the sailing events. In 1904, at St Louis, women had their own archery events, and were again present in 1908. Three female swimming and diving events were introduced in 1912 and five athletics disciplines were added in 1928.
In 1908 there was a total of 36 female competitors at the Games, whereas at Sydney in 2000 there were over 4000. All the archery competitors were British, and the winner, Sybil “Queenie” Newall, is the oldest woman ever to win an Olympic gold medal, she was aged 53 years, 275 days.
The runner-up, Charlotte “Lottie” Dod, was one of the most remarkable sportswomen of her, or any other, generation. She had won the Wimbledon tennis singles on five occasions, taken the British Ladies golf crown four years earlier, represented England at hockey, and was of the highest standard at skating and tobogganing.
Charlotte’s brother William won the men’s archery Olympic gold medal on the same day. Not surprisingly, it was revealed that they were descendants of the man who commanded the victorious British archers at the battle of Agincourt nearly 500 years before.