There were no women registered as competitors when the first modern Olympic Games took place in 1896. Even when their participation was given official sanction in 1900, for many years they encountered incredible opposition to being accepted as serious athletes. Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the Modern Olympics, was himself vehemently opposed to women taking part in competitive sport. In July 1912 he said:
"Tomorrow, there will probably be women runners, or even women football players? If such sports are played by women, would they constitute a proper spectacle to offer the audience that an Olympiad brings together? We do not think this may be claimed to be so."
Though we might forgive the Baron his opinion - it was over ninety years ago, after all - he was not alone in his views. At the turn of the twentieth century, many doctors believed that if women took part in sport there was a strong chance they would become infertile, and it was a common view that sporting women might even turn into men. It was a time when women could not vote. Their main role in life was to marry and raise a family.
The earliest women Olympians of the modern era were born during this time, so what was it about them that led them to defy convention when so much was against them?
'A Proper Spectacle' answers this question and examines women's Olympic sporting history through top line research, beautiful, unique photographs and entertaining box stories. The book has become a recognised leading text amongst schools, colleges and universities throughout the world and has 168 pages, 100 black and white and 26 colour photos.