ATHLETICS, WOMEN IN. During the World War, women began to enter fields of sport which hitherto had been the private preserves of the male sex. Football, boxing, wrestling and field and track athletics, including the tug-of-war, became popu lar and were more or less efficiently practised by women. After the War France created a State department of sport, under the Ministry of Health and Education. The object of this department, which has now become a ministry, was to provide every member of the republic with his or her game. It was early realized that to be included in the international team would be the aim and object of every athlete of either sex, and it was mainly due to the energetic promotion of international athletic matches for women by France, and their repeated invitations to England to take part therein, that the international and national governing bodies of women's athletics in many countries of the world have been brought into being.
France was responsible for the formation in 1921 of the Federation Sportive Feminine Internationale, which is the su preme governing body of women's sport. At the inaugural meet ing the countries represented were the United States, Czecho slovakia, France, Great Britain, Italy and Spain, but now the nations which send delegates to the F.S.F.I. congresses are: United States, France, Great Britain, Sweden, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, Italy, Japan, South Africa, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Egypt, Spain, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxem bourg, Norway, Holland, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Switzerland, Turkey, Uruguay, Yugoslavia. In 1922 the English Women's Amateur Athletic Association was founded at the suggestion of the A.A.A. The English Association now legislates for more than 23,00o girls.
Some minor international meetings, in all of which Great Britain was successful, took place in the years immediately after the World War, but the first Olympic games for women were not held until 1922. The British women were once more successful, the general classification of points being: Great Britain 5o, United States 31, France 29, Czechoslovakia 12 and Switzerland 6. At the first Olympiad the victors were as follows:— came first with 5o points, then France 27, Sweden 20, Czecho slovakia 19, Japan 15, Poland 7 and Latvia 1. The results were as follows :— The fourth congress of the F.S.F.I. took place in Gothenburg on Aug. 27-29, 1926; Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland were represented. At this congress it was decided to adopt and use the metric system only and to eliminate races at distances between 200 and Boo metres. The weight of the women's javelin was fixed at 600 grams (1.3 2 21b. ) and that of the shot and discus at 4 kilograms (8.81841b.) and it kilogram (2.2o461b.) respectively. It was also agreed to take account only of best hand throws at the next games and to ex clude walking contests from the list of records. The most impor tant question dealt with was that of participation in the men's Olympic games, the I.O.C. having decided to include five events for women at the ninth Olympiad at Amsterdam in 1928. These resulted as follows:— The first Olympic games for women, held at Paris in 1922, were an attempt to revive the women's athletic festivals of classical antiquity. At that time athletics for women (apart from fencing) scarcely existed in Sweden. There was some interest in the schools and a few events at the schools annual sports at Stockholm. Meanwhile the propaganda committee of the Swedish National Athletic Association formulated special lines of work for the movement, resulting in women's competitions, but there were very few entries. In the summer of 1925 a strong team of English girl athletes visited Sweden, and, competing at Gothen burg and Falkenberg, aroused such interest that the Sveriges Kvinnliga Idrottsforbund (Women's Athletic Association) was at once formed and affiliated to the F.S.F.I.
At the third congress of the F.S.F.I. it was arranged that the second women's Olympiad should be held at Brussels in 1926, a venue later changed to Gothenburg in Sweden. The organizers had received entries from ten nations but, unfortunately, Italy and Yugoslavia were unable to send teams. The eight nations represented were Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Great Britain, Japan, Latvia, Poland and Sweden. The games lasted for three days of unbroken sunshine and the large attendance of spectators made it unnecessary for the organizers to call upon the Swedish sportsmen who had guaranteed the expenses of the games. When the contests were over and the final points assessed Great Britain It may be added that all the nations subsequently decided to take part, with the sole exception of Great Britain. At the fourth congress of the F.S.F.I. it was decided to hold the third inter national ladies' games at Prague in 193o.
Each country has its own governing body and its annual national championships. Two important international matches have taken place in London, more than 25,00o spectators being present on each occasion. In 1924 Great Britain scored 56 points, France 24, Belgium 15, Czechoslovakia 13, Switzerland 7 and Italy 2. In 1925 there was a triangular match between Great Britain (56 points), Czechoslovakia (26 points) and Canada (23 points). Women's athletic sport is growing rapidly, and a high level of performance has been already reached, as may be seen from the table of world's records on pp. 614-6.
See F. A. M. Webster's Athletics of To-day for Women (Frederick Warne & Co., Ltd., London, 193o) . (F. A. M. W.)