She ran and she ran, her heart was beating too fast, she knew this but kept going. She made the 200m line, 400 meters, 800 meters, shattering the mile record, still she ran, and then it happened. Her uterus fell out! But still, she ran and cried but as her top lip quivered it felt heavier, so she slowed in order to catch a glimpse of herself. The shop window reflected her image and she saw the huge mustache that had appeared. But in her heart she knew the medical experts were wrong about one thing, she didn’t want to be a man!1928 Amsterdam Olympics so it was reduced to 200 meters; 800 meters was just too much for such frail creatures! Except that the report was fabricated, there were nine runners and they all finished!
Distance running by women was thought to be unladylike, it was a violation of natural law, they were not physiologically capable of running mile after mile, they wouldn’t be able to bear children and of course we all knew that her uterus would fall out. Don’t forget the added fact that she might grow a mustache, chest hair and big legs. There were even some people at the IOC who were suspicious that they were really men, or wanted to be one.
None of these things actually happened (in case you were wondering) which, as a huge Paula Radcliffe fan, I am very glad it didn’t. In the 1900 Paris Olympics 19 women competed overall. In Tokyo this coming summer there will be 11,000 athletes and nearly 50% will be female. As I once said to Jo Pavey, “You’ve brought so much joy into my house.”