Masters Thesis

Lifting the Bar: A History of Inclusion, Empowerment and the Rise of Women's Olympic Weightlifting

On November 14, 1996, the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) and the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) met in Cancun, Mexico to discuss an array of administrative and participatory issues regarding the upcoming Sydney Olympic Games. On the agenda in Cancun was one issue that had persistently afflicted the Olympic Movement for over a century: gender inequality. Based on prevailing pseudo-scientific theories of physical vulnerability, as well as the founder of the Olympic Movement Pierre de Coubertin’s own patriarchal attitudes towards female athleticism, women were originally excluded from Olympic competition. Despite decades of intensive lobbying and the gradual dismantling of the walls of exclusion, female athletes still fell short of full equality in the Olympic arena. Weightlifting, for instance, remained open only to men. The Cancun meeting helped change this situation. The IOC Executive Board, boasting the full support of the ANOC, voted on the inclusion of women weightlifters into the Olympic program.

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