What can Olympic women do that men can’t?

Runner GirlThe London 2012 Olympics is the first time in Olympic history that all participating countries have women athletes participating. That’s awesome! But did you know there are some Olympic events that men cannot do?

Women can compete in 2 olympic events that men can’t

There are currently 2 events where men are barred from competition. While that may sound unfair, let’s step back and take a look at the big picture. Women compete in 30 fewer events than men do, so men still outnumber the women.

However, men are not allowed to participate in rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized swimming. If you think it’s because men are not interested in these events, that is simply not true. There has been a push in recent years to allow men’s teams for these events. To date, there is no word on whether the Olympic committee will allow it in future games.

I, for one, would fully support a men’s competition and if there were a petition or a way to get my voice heard, I would sign it just like I did when the women rallied to add women’s ski jumping to the winter Olympics in 2014. Yup, that’s right – 2014 will be the first gender-equal Winter Olympics.

Women can compete while pregnant

Well of course men can’t compete while pregnant! I know what you’re thinking… it’s biologically impossible! But ponder this… for anyone who has ever been pregnant, when is usually the worst time?  Those last couple of months, right?

Now an Olympic athlete would want to be at the top of her game during the competition, right? Can you imagine being 8 months pregnant at the very moment you are scheduled to perform your absolute best?

Nur Suryani Mohd Taibi competed in the air rifle competition at 8 months pregnant. Eight freaking months! That is fantastic!

Sure, it may not take much athletic prowess to pull that trigger, but you can bet it takes extreme concentration. Try focusing with a nearly full-term baby swimming around in your belly and kicking your ribs. Now that takes some skill.

Women can be judged by body shape, not skill

This is sad. It’s 2012 for crying out loud. Athletes come in all shapes and sizes. As scientifically advanced as we are these days, you would think that body shape is a non-issue when determining how healthy and fit one may be. However, if you are a female, the shape of your body is still a factor in how well people think you can compete and how “fit” they think you are.

In this year’s Olympic games, we have two mighty fine examples of this athletic stereotype in play. There are actually more examples, but these are the most talked about. In womens weightlifting, Sarah Robles is a national champion. She can lift more than a professional football player.

Sarah is extremely dedicated to her sport and was living on just $400/month because she had no sponsors. Just before the London Games, she picked up her first sponsor. Not an athletic company or a sports drink vendor – but an Internet advertising company.

Sarah was quoted in Buzzfeed as saying “You can get that sponsorship if you’re a super-built guy or a girl who looks good in a bikini, but not if you’re a girl who’s built like a guy.”

In Sarah’s sport, when we see a huge guy lifting weights we call him buff and marvel at his strength. When a woman does the same thing, we call her fat and accuse her of trying to be a man. What. The. Heck?

C’mon folks. This isn’t rocket science. If she’s gonna be a weightlifter, don’t you think she needs to have some core muscle to work with? Would you like to see toothpick Barbie pick up those dumbbells and then be crushed under their weight? I don’t think so. If my team’s weightlifter looked like a string bean, I’d have no confidence in her abilities. When I look at Sarah Robles, I see a confident athlete who takes her sport seriously. I will be rooting for her all the way!

Next up we have an Australian swimmer on the chopping block because she doesn’t look as “fit” as some media jerk thinks she should. Leisel Jones has 4 gold medals to her name and is at the 2012 games to claim her 5th.

She came under fire when the Melbourne Herald Sun published some older photos of her compared to current photos and then offered an online poll to readers asking if she was fat.

Seriously? Who does that to people?

Leisel made it to the olympics on her own merit – it’s not a lottery drawing. Thankfully, she was able to rise above the crap being spewed about her physique (which looks way more amazing than probably 99% of the rest of the population) and win her 5th gold medal last night. Take that body-shape haters.

When are we going to get it through our thick skulls that women are athletes, too. We are not objects there for entertainment. Women athletes should be judged on their skills, not on how “fit” society thinks they should look. Shame on anyone who keeps making this an issue.


  1. Miko on August 1, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    Uh, Mary Lou Retton was build like a brick. A very strong, cute as a button brick. ’nuff said.

  2. Aiyana on August 2, 2012 at 8:36 am

    This is exactly what I’m talking about. There’s always a catch-22 for a female being an athlete whether it’s just for fun or if you make it to the Olympics. You can be the best yet you’re still stereotyped as not strong enough or good enough due to biologically being part of the female gender. We’re strong and competitive, too! Thanks again for another good article, Gretchen!

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