Hélène de Pourtalès was a member of the crew of the yacht Lérina, which won the first of two regattas in the 1-2 tonne class on May 22, 1900, and took second in the second race three days later. As a result, she became the first woman to compete in the Olympics and the first woman to win an Olympic medal.
At the Ancient Olympic Games, only men were permitted to compete. Women who attended faced execution as a sentence.
Women’s involvement in the Olympic Games has risen steadily since their first appearance in 1900. Women’s representation on the International Olympic Committee has lagged well behind that of female participation, and it continues to fall short of its aim of a 20% minimum female presence on the committee.