Who is the best? Every year, every day, all the time in the world of sport, we are asking ourselves, seeking answers, discussing about the above stated question. Everybody has their favourite, and of course, everybody thinks they have the right answer. This year »heads are butting« about the Portuguese »total athlete CR7« Cristiano Ronaldo, and Argentine two times Balon d’Or winner – on a road to be the best of all times – Messi, the dynamic duo,on the road to break all the records in the football record books.
The question of the day is: Who is the sport person of the year in Argentina? Hey…that is easy, Messi for sure, I’d bet my car on it. Well, hand over the keys mister, because the best of the best in Argentina is Luciana Aymar (pictured), a field hockey player!
A woman field hockey player, beating Lionel Messi, in a country where football has a religious status, is an unbelievable fact, and would have been virtually unimaginable a couple of decades ago.
It is also a sign of a new force in the world of sport – women.
Numbers do not lie. In the last FIFA football survey the overall total of female players increased by 19% from the previous count. The growth in female registered players is particularly striking; the number of registered female football players has increased by 54%, in a traditionally men dominated game!
WNBA in USA has evolved from a side idea of NBA club owners to fill in a summer gap, into a first professional women’s league with a multi million dollar TV broadcasting deal. It continues to break milestones, and is gradually increasing in fan base.
The subject of women and sport has been intriguing and shocking throughout history. From the time when the first Olympics were held in ancient Greece, where women had been excluded, so they competed every four years in their own Games of Hera, to honor the Greek goddess who ruled over women and the earth, to Kyniska, a Spartian princess, who won an Olympic chariot race, but was barred from collecting her prize in person, and Melpomene, who, barred from the official race at the first modern Olympics in Athens, ran the same course as the men, finishing in 4 hours 30 minutes.
There are numerous examples of sports heroics;
In 1948, Dutch athlete Fanny Blankers-Koen won four gold medals in London Olympic games, the equivalents of the ones Jesse Owens had won twelve years earlier in Berlin. At the time she also held the world records in the high and long jumps, but did not compete in those events, as rules prohibited women from competing in more than three individual events.
At the 1976 Olympics, Nadia Comaneci brought the gymnastics world its first perfect 10.
The first woman to play on an all-male professional basketball team, Lynette Woodard, scored seven points in her debut with the Harlem Globetrotters (1986).
Blind swimmer Tricia Zorn becomes the first athlete, male or female, to win 12 gold medals in a Paralympics competition (1988).
The Battle of the Sexes in 1973, match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs (pictured bellow), was the first step to resist gender discrimination and lack of prize money in tennis, and a major breakthrough in recognition of women power in sport, and in general.
The ultimate gender battlefield is blazing in one of the last men’s strongholds – ski jumping. In the last decade women ski jumping evolved. Women started to jump further and further, and sport become quite popular with its own winter tour – Continental Cup. Every winter since 1998, women have petitioned to be included in the ski jump portion of the Winter Olympics. But despite their efforts, and despite a 1991 law stating that all future games need to be open to both genders, women are still not allowed to participate in the Olympic ski jump. A women’s event is being considered for the 2014 Games in Sochi.
Today’s generation of women athletes is breaking the last gender barriers – prize money distribution in Wimbledon, as a great example (in 2007 Wimbledon officials announced that competitors would receive the same amount of prize money, at all stages of the tournament, regardless of sex) – and establishing women as equal power in the world of sports.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day we give praise to all the women of the world, and especially sports stars such as Danica Patrick (NASCAR racing), the Williams sisters (tennis), Dara Torres (swimming), Marta (football), Lauren Jackson (basketball), Paula Radcliffe, Meseret Defar (distance running), Lorena Ochoa (golf), Yelena Isinbayeva (athletics), Guo Jingjing (diving), Lindsey Vonn (skiing), and many more, who are constantly pushing the limits with their achievements, not forgetting the cue of this post, the beautiful Luciana Aymar, who managed to eclipse probably the most famous athlete on the planet at the moment.
The future for women in sport seems very bright with all of the innovation and talent on the horizon. Women are ever more empowered by their sporting ability; in fact, women are already a dominating force in some sports!