Polish women in sports

polflagPeople have been practicing sports since forever. Well, not all people as women were not allowed to watch or participate in the Olympic Games in ancient Greece. The first modern Games did allow women to compete either. In 1928, women were prohibited from running more than 200 meters, extensive running supposedly caused premature aging. Fortunately, now in 2016 women have been competing in nearly all sport disciplines for a very long time now, despite all the obstacles they have had to face.

If you were to type in Google ‘Polish sportswomen’ you would probably expect to see articles about the best and most famous Polish female athletes. Unfortunately, ithe first ranked athletes are not the ones that won the most medals or the ones that broke records; Female athletes are ranked by beauty. Some of the titles of the articles read “Sportswoman decided to have a nude photoshoot!”, “Single sportswoman to take!” or “Eleven sportswomen who outdo everyone with their beauty.”

Corey Cogdell, Olympic bronze medalist in trapshoot was lately subject to sexist treatment when Chicago Tribune tweeted “Wife of a Bears’ linemen wins a bronze medal today in Rio Olympics ” without even mentioning her name. Sadly, female athletes are very often victims of discrimination as their appearance or private life get more attention than their achievements and hard work.

Polish sportswomen achieved outstanding performances in various disciplines such as cycling, canoeing, rowing, tennis, or athletics. Moreover,  8 of the 11 Polish medals were won by women at the Olympic Games. Anita Włodarczyk who broke her own world record (and broke it again on 28th August) as she threw the hammer farther than the male champion. She is one of the most famous athletes in Poland.

Another hero of Polish sport scene is Justyna Kowalczyk, “The Snow Queen” -an Olympic multimedalist and World champion in cross country skiing. She is the greatest athlete of Winter Olympics in Polish history and third greatest of Winter and Summer Olympics altogether.  Such sportswomen break barriers for little girls so that ‘like a girl ‘ takes on a new meaning . Teenage girls willing to take up a sport no longer pay attention to the gender stereotype that girls and women are weaker but rather focus on role models such as Kowalczyk and pursue their dreams and interests.

However, because of the little media coverage, most of Polish sportswomen who win medals in international competitions gain little recognition. According to recent surveys, female athletes who achieve best results in their disciplines and are famous in their surroundings are known to only 5-6 % of sport supporters in contrast with their male counterparts who, thanks to media promotion, are widely known to the crowd.

Despite the enormous progress that has been made, there is still a lot to do for sportswomen to have the same position as sportsmen do. Apart from the sexist treatment, sportswomen still earn less than sportsmen. How long will it  take to forget about gender stereotypes so that sportswomen have equal pay, the same amount of support and recognition as sportsmen, and are not subjects to any kind of discrimination?

– by Wiktoria G.