32¢ Women’s Running
1996 Summer Olympics
Issue Date: May 2, 1996
City: Washington, DC and Atlanta, GA
Printed By: Stamp Venturers
Printing Method: Photogravure
Women’s running events are relatively new to the Olympics. The 1928 games hosted the first two races – the 100 meters and 800 meters (the 800 meters was not held again until 1960). Additional races were added in: 1948, the 200 meters; 1964, the 400 meters; 1972, the 1500 meters; and in 1984, both the 3000 meters and marathon (26 miles, 385 years) events were added.
At first, women’s events were met with skepticism and adversity. When the very first race, the 100 meters, was held in 1928, the women were visibly nervous, and so was the mostly male audience. Two runners were eventually disqualified for false starts. Female athletes in the first 800-meter race ran so hard that several collapsed. Although this occurs with male athletes as well, anti-feminists seized this opportunity to criticize women’s participation in such “feats of endurance.” The London Daily Mail quoted doctors who said such events would make women “become old too soon.”
Unfortunately, these opinions were heeded, and for 32 years women were not allowed to participate in races longer than 200 meters. Modern science and women’s outstanding performances have since prevailed, but it was a long road. In 1984, women competed in the ultimate test of endurance, the marathon.