Today 100 years ago, the world’s first international sporting event for women took place in Monaco. The 1921 Women’s Olympiad was held in Monte Carlo from 24 to 31 March, 1921 . It featured competitors from just five nations: France, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Italy, and Norway.
The games were organized by Alice Milliat and Camille Blanc, director of the “International Sporting Club de Monaco” as a response to the IOC decision not to include women’s events in the 1924 Olympic Games.
There were 10 events running (60 meters, 250 meters, 800 meters 4 x 75 meters relay, 4 x 175 meters relay and hurdling 65 meters), high jump, long jump, javelin and shot put The tournament also held exhibition events in basketball, gymnastics, pushball , rhythmic gymnastics and standing long jump.
Leading competitors in this Olympiad ese games included Mary Lines (1893-1978) of the United Kingdom and Violette Morris (1893-1944) of France. Mary Lines won gold in several athletics events including the 60m, which she ran in 8.2 seconds. She died in 1978 in a traffic accident, aged 85. She was rushing to post her Christmas mail and ran in front of a van.
Violette Morris had a slogan ” Anything a man can do, Violette can do!” well she certainly proved that throughout her life, but not always in a positive way .
She excelled in those sports that require strength and power such as shot put and javelin.However those weren’t the only sports she was involved in.
She partook in football,water polo ,road bicycle racing, motorcycle racing, airplane racing, horseback riding, tennis, archery, diving, swimming,weightlifting, and Greco-Roman wrestling,boxing and car racing.
She loved car racing so much that she had her breasts removed to fit better in the car.
In 1937 she was acquitted for shooting a man dead in self-defence.
Her lifestyle was of no shame to her. She lived as a man and made no secret of the fact that her lovers were women. This was considered really scandalous behaviour in 1920’s France. For this She was later banned from competing.
One of her biggest admirers was Adolf Hitler. In 1935 she was approached an recruited by by the Sicherheitsdienst. On the personal behest she was invited to attend the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.
Morris was later accused of being a Nazi collaborator. On 26 April 1944 she was ambushed on a country road by the French Resistance and machine-gunned to death.
As for the 1921 Women’s Olympiad it was a great success and an important step for Women’s sports. The 1922 Women’s Olympiad and 1923 Women’s Olympiad were held at the same Monaco venue. The 1922 Olympiad often gets confused with the 1922 Women’s World Games, which were held in Paris.