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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Madame A. Milliat

b. 1884, France; d. 1957, France

Although women had competed at the Olympic Games since 1900 in certain sports such as swimming and archery, they were barred from the most prestigious event, track and field. Madame Alice Milliat was determined to change that. As founder and president of the Fédération Sportive Féminine Internationale (FSFI), which operated in Paris from 1921 to 1936, she launched the “Women’s Olympics.” The first, a one-day track meet in Paris in 1922, broke world records. The FSFI sponsored three more events, in Göteborg, Sweden (1926), Prague (1930), and London (1934), all of which drew large crowds and female athletes from around the world. Through the success of the first two events, Milliat was able to broker an agreement with the International Olympic Committee to allow women to compete in the track-and-field events at the 1928 games held in Amsterdam. In exchange, she had to drop the use of the name “Women’s Olympics.”