Women outpace men in sports

Women outpace men in sports

Worldwide results of sporting events show that women are becoming faster and stronger at such a fast rate, that in many events they will soon outpace men – some say within the next 15 years. This challenges the long-held notion that men are superior to women in athletic activities, and shows that in many cases women simply have lacked the types of opportunities and training available exclusively to men in the past.

‘There have been male role models and targets to strive for since the turn of the century, so men’s performance has moved forward quite rapidly,” notes Dr. Tom Cochrane of the Sheffield Institute of Sports Medicine and Exercise Science. “In the past five to ten years women have started having their own role models and targets, so performance has improved. That is why the gap has been closing fast.”

The events women are particularly excelling at include long-distance swimming, the marathon and the triathalon. Marathon swimming, one of the most difficult of all events, already boasts a woman super-star Shelley Taylor-Smith of Australia, who has already won several events.

In endurance swimming, Alison Streeter of the United Kingdom in 1990 set the record for a 34-hour triple crossing of the English Channel, which no one has been able to match.

The increase in women’s achievements has far exceeded that of men in recent years. For instance, women’s marathon time records have improved 36 percent since 1960, from 3 hours 40 minutes to 2 hours 21 minutes. In contrast, men have cut their time by only 6.6 percent, from 2 hours 21 minutes to 2 hours 6 minutes. Another example is the pole vault From 1984 to 1997, the women’s record jumped from 3.59 meters to 4.55 meters, or by 96 centimeters. Men’s height over the same timespan increased only 20 centimeters, from 5.94 meters to 6.14 meters.

While women may not ever match men in purely strength-based events, “when stamina and skill are needed, [women] often have the advantage,” according to Melyssa SL George, president of UltraFit Human Performance, a sports training facility in Baltimore, Maryland.

Another area women excel in is training. Dr. Nanette Mutrie, a sports psychologist at Glasgow University, says that while top men’s and women’s levels of commitment and motivation are on par, “[w]omen are…keener than men to take new developments on board like sports psychology, sports science and nutrition.”

(Info from Toronto Star, March 14, 1999)

Copyright Off Our Backs, Inc. May 1999

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