- 23 Oct 1968
- Mexico 1968
Rolińska and de Seminario shoot through the glass ceiling
There was a breakthrough in the shooting competition, as it welcomed women for the first time.
Eulalia Rolińska, from Poland, and Gladys de Seminario, of Peru, became the first female athletes to take part in the event to compete in shooting. These were the first Games in which the shooting was designated as an “open” event, meaning both men and women were allowed to compete. As it happened, few women did enter, but Rolińska and de Seminario had the honour of leading the way.
They competed in the small-bore rifle, prone, 50m, in a field of 86 athletes. Rolińska finished 22nd, while de Seminario ended the event in 31st position, performances that clearly ended the argument that women would not be able to compete at the same level as men.
Rolińska was a 22-year-old fledgling engineer when she entered these Games. She had prospered in shooting among women's competitions, winning gold medals in the 1966 World Championships for both individual and team events in the standard rifle.
At that time, though, there was no women's category on the Olympic calendar. Undeterred, she sought – and received – a place in the Games on the back of her performances.
In 1971, she won two more titles at the European championships, again taking the individual and team prone titles. The following years, she returned to the Olympic arena and recorded exactly the same score – 593 – as she had earned in Mexico City. This time, though, it put her 28th in the standings, still a hugely impressive achievement in the face of a high-class field.
De Seminario entered the Olympics once again four years later, but her performance in Munich was less successful and she finished down in 75th place. However, her endeavours inspired plenty of other young women to aspire to reach the top of this sport.
Among them - De Seminario's own daughter, Gladys de Seminario Junior. She competed for Peru in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, also in a small-bore rifle event. By then, though, women athletes had their own category – she finished 27th.
The third woman to compete in Olympic shooting also did so in 1968 – and in front of her home crowd. Nuria Ortíz finished 15th in the skeet.
It was the start of a long Olympic career for Ortíz. She returned to the Olympic arena four years later, and then again in both 1984 and 1988, finishing joint 40th in the skeet at the age of 43. Four years later, her brother César, made his Olympic debut in the mixed trap when 42 years old. He finished 51st.