Friday, December 22, 2017

V 7 N. 85 When did the first woman high jump 5 feet?

In a recent posting on the blog site  Go Feet, the author discussed some of the earliest clubs in England that admitted women to their ranks, one notably the Peckham Harriers.  Also mentioned was a member of that club Phyllis Green who was the first woman to clear the height of 5 feet (1.52 meters) in the high jump.  Below the commentary of Go Feet.   Also of note in this  posting are several film clips of a series of Women's Olympics established in the 1920's held in Monaco for women when the International Olympic Committee wasn't quite ready to offer full opportunity to women to compete in their Olympic Games.

This passage below as it appeared in Go Feet


A notable Peckham athlete was a pioneer women's jumper and the first to clear five feet in the high jump. Phyllis Green (1908-99) was born at 12 Rye Lane where her father Henry Green managed the undertakers. He was a member of Peckham Harriers so no doubt encouraged his daughter who as a 17 year old at Peckham High School for Girls 'set her first world best of 1.51 metres at London's Stamford Bridge in June 1925, and equalled that mark in Brussels a month later. She raised it by half an inch when winning the WAAA title at Stamford Bridge on 11 July 1925, becoming the first woman to clear 5 feet (1.52 metres).  At another London venue, Chiswick, she improved her world best to 1.55 metres (5 ft 1 in) in 1926 and her highest ever jump was 1.58 metres (5 ft 2¼ in) at the 1927 WAAA championships off a grass take-off at Reading’ – the end of a short but successful competitive career . She also held the British long jump record for a while and her personal best of 5.52 metres in 1927 was only 5 cm short of the then world record.  She told a reporter in 1925 that ‘I have always jumped from the time I learned to walk…'I never went round an obstacle—I always jumped over it.' (source:  Mel Watman, Women athletes between the world wars, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2012)
These were the early days of women’s athletics - the Women’s Amateur Athletics Association was only founded in 1922, and Phyllis Green belonged to the London Olympiades Athletics Club, the first women’s club, set up in 1921 in a period when many running clubs only admitted male members. 
The only picture I have found of Phyllis Green is an etching by Percy Smith (1882-1948), held in the collection of the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery




The first women's Olympics and subsequently the Women's World Games below were organized independently from the IOC and IAAF operations.   A French lady, Alice Milliat petitioned the IOC to include track and field in the 1924 Olympics but was refused.  As a result she organized the Federation Sportive Feminine in 1921 as well as  the first women's international sporting events in Monte Carlo in 1921.  Wikipedia gives this summation of her career and of the the FSF.

Alice Milliat (1884 in Nantes – 1957) was a pioneer of women's sport in France and around the world. Her lobbying on behalf of female athletes forced the inclusion of women's events in the Olympic Games.
Milliat, a translator by profession participated in the sport of rowing.[1] She was also an avid swimmer and hockey player.
A member of Femina Sport, a club founded in 1911, she helped form the Federation Francaise Sportive Feminine in 1917, becoming treasurer and later president.[2] In 1921 she organized the first international women's sporting event in Monte Carlo (follow-ups in 1922 and 1923). She is credited with igniting the pressure on the Olympic Games to allow more female representation in a broader range of sports, a process that is still ongoing today. Her name is engraved on the pediment of a gymnasium in the 14th arrondissement in Paris, thanks to her contributions to athletics.

Formation of the FSFI]

1900 was the first Olympics to allow women athletes, but only in the sports of golf and tennis. Eventually, the Olympics integrated women's swimming and other events into the games. However, track and field events for women remained conspicuously absent from the Olympics
Mary Lines, Great Britain won the
100, 250 and was second in the 800 in
the 1921 Games
In 1919, Milliat asked the IAAF to include women's track and field athletics events in the 1924 Olympic Games. They refused. On 31 October 1921, Milliat formed La Fédération Sportive Féminine Internationale (FSFI) to oversee international women's sporting events. The FSFI decided to hold a Women's Olympic Games, which would include all sports, rather than the restricted number allowed to women in the official Olympics helmed by Pierre de Coubertin.

Lucie Breard was second in the 250

Germaine Lapierre won the hurdles

Women's World Games[edit]

The first informal iteration of the games occurred in 1921 Monte Carlo, and due to the lack of a running track, took place on a pigeon shooting field. In 1922, the experiment was revived, again in Monte Carlo. This time, 300 athletes competed, representing 7 nations[5]
In August 1922, the first Women's Olympics were conducted in Pershing Stadium in Paris and featured five teams including the United StatesGreat BritainSwitzerlandCzechoslovakia as well as the host country France.  Eleven athletics events were conducted and the 20,000 strong crowd saw eighteen athletes break world records.
Infuriated by the use of the term 'Olympic Games' the IOC convinced Milliat and the FSFI to change the name of their event in exchange for adding 10 women's events to the 1928 Olympics.   De Coubertin, widely known as the man to reintroduce the Olympic Games to the modern world, was among one of the most vocal opponents to women's participation in the games.
As such, the next edition of the event, held in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1926, was termed the Women's World Games. Ten teams took part in this edition of the Games.[4] The Olympic Games and de Coubertin, due to pressure from the FSFI, eventually integrated five women's track and field events into the Olympics in 1928. However, to Milliat, this was not enough, since men were allowed to compete in 22 events. The British women's team boycotted the Amsterdam games for the same reason.[3]
Two further Games were held in Prague in 1930 (featuring other sports in addition to athletics) and in London in 1934. After these games, Milliat issued an ultimatum: fully integrate the 1936 Olympics, or cede all women's participation to the FSFI. This led the IAAF to appoint a special commission to cooperate with the FSFI, which ceded control of international women's athletics to the IAAF in exchange for an expanded program and a recognition of records set in the Women's Games.[1][3]
To this day, the Olympics does not offer an equal slate of men's and women's sports. However, Milliat's pressure greatly expanded women's representation at the Olympics. In a 1934 interview, Milliat said:
"Women's sports of all kinds are handicapped in my country by the lack of playing space. As we have no vote, we can not make our needs publicly felt, or bring pressure to bear in the right quarters. I always tell my girls that the vote is one of the things they will have to work for if France is to keep its place with the other nations in the realm of feminine sport."

Women's Olympics 1922 Monaco  film clip


Women's Olympics 1926 Gothenburg, Sweden  film clip





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