Two years ago, I wrote how the Olympic 2012 Summer Games had, for the first time, men and women represented in every discipline. Whether this was because of ancient committee rules, low funding (early Olympic female athletes notoriously often paid their own way), or a general lack of encouragement for women to pursue sports, I’m not sure of the details. Interestingly, to give an example of how far women have come, for the first time in the history of the Games the American team sent more female than male athletes to compete.
So this afternoon, between cleaning the discarded, half-eaten banana my 8-month-old son had smeared onto my jumper sleeve and removing the tube of Bonjela from his mouth, I was surprised to hear that this year – yes, 2014, 118 years after the first modern Olympic Games – women had only just been allowed to compete in Ski Jumping.
In 2010, a team of 15 athletes sued the Olympic Games organisers on the grounds of gender discrimination. They lost but, funnily enough, the ban was lifted the following year, and that’s why yesterday, Carina Vogt of Germany became the first woman to win a gold medal in the discipline.
The silver medal was won by Daniela Iraschko-Stolz of Austria, who married her female partner last year.
Two women who both had reasons to feel unwelcome at the Olympic Games (one for until-recently legal gender discrimination and the other because of the anti-gay movement in this year’s Winter host Russia) have taken the top two positions in this discipline for the very first time. May many, many more follow.