Athletes currently competing in Sochi at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games are thrilling spectators in the stands and viewers at home across the globe. More than 40% of them are women, and many of them are competing in newly added events, such as ski and snowboard slopestyle and women’s ski jumping, to name but a few. Delegations like Australia and Japan actually have more female athletes than men on board.
Women’s ski jumping’s successful debut
It was Germany's Carina Vogt who made history on Tuesday, winning the first ever women's Olympic ski jumping event in a nail-biting finale in which 2011 world champion Daniela Iraschko-Stolz of Austria claimed silver, ahead of third-placed France's Coline Mattel.
For Vogt, who has made eight World Cup podiums this season but arrived in Sochi still chasing her first win, her victory came as a genuine surprise. “I cannot find the right words,” she said. “I wouldn't have thought it was possible three hours ago. It's amazing, I'm the first women’s Olympic champion in ski jumping. I've not won a World Cup till now. It's unbelievable.”
Another German ski jumper, Gianina Ernst, born on 31 December 1998, did not end up in the event’s top ranks, but secured her place in the history books by becoming the youngest athlete competing in Sochi.
Some more highlights
There is a lot of women power and fascinating stories around these days in Sochi, and here is just a taster: Jorien Ter Mors from the Netherlands is the first speed skater in history to compete in both the short and long track at an Olympic Winter Games. Justine and Chloé Dufour-Lapointe from Canada took gold and silver in the women’s moguls at Rosa Khutor and became the first sisters to occupy the top two steps of a Winter Olympic podium in half a century. Ukrainian twins Valya and Vita Semerenko are both competing in biathlon in Sochi, and Vita went on to win the first medal for her country in Sochi. Norway's cross-country skier Marit Bjørgen added a fourth gold to her fast growing Olympic medal collection; and 2012 Youth Olympic Games participant Greta Small from Australia hides the pressure on her young shoulders well, given the herculean and gruelling endurance test she has undertaken as she competes in all five events in Alpine skiing in Sochi.
Follow more fascinating stories on www.olympic.org in the coming days
When women first competed in the Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix in 1924, there were only 11 athletes which represented just over 4 per cent of the total competitors. Since then, female participation at the Olympic Games has come a long way.
Read more interesting facts and figures here.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s commitment to gender equality extends well beyond its efforts to increase women’s participation at the Olympic Games however. It also recognises that gender equality is a critical component of effective sports administration and continues to support the promotion of women and girls in sport at all levels and structures.