Representing Self, Community and Nation: The Empire and Commonwealth Games Careers of Influential British Women Athletes 1930–1966
The beginnings of British Empire sports in 1911 were soon followed by the increased recognition of female athletes at the 1912 Stockholm Olympic Games with the swimming gold medal won by the British 4 × 100 metres freestyle relay team (Isabella Moore of Scotland, Irene Steer of Wales, Annie Spiers and Jennie Fletcher of England). The first British Empire Games were held in Hamilton, Ontario Province in Canada from 16 to 23 August 1930 and were a relatively small affair, soon followed by the much larger 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games. Despite the relative difference in size, female athletes represented England, Wales and Scotland and the Republic of Ireland at British Empire, then Empire and Commonwealth Games, in a distinct articulation of the sporting self, community and nation. The article concludes with the British Empire and Commonwealth Games held in Kingston, Jamaica from 4 to 13 August 1966 because this was the first time that the games had been held outside the so-called White Dominions. During the period of analysis, an Empire or Commonwealth gold medal was presented in World Sports, the official magazine of the British Olympic Association, as a ‘championship’ title and this nuances our understanding of Olympic titles relative to Empire and Commonwealth victories in the popular imagination. The discussion traces the gradual evolution of the female schedule in the British Empire Games and argues that it was important to the careers and public recognition of women such as Scottish swimmer Helen Orr (Eleanor) Gordon and England's Mary Glen Haig, the fencer who became the third woman to sit on the International Olympic Committee in 1983 and who should, maybe, have won a gold Olympic medal but never did.
Citation : Williams, J. (2014) Representing Self, Community and Nation: The Empire and Commonwealth Games Careers of Influential British Women Athletes 1930–1966. Sport In History (Special Issue: The British Empire and Commonwealth Games) 34 (3), pp. 476-497
Research Group : International Centre for Sports History and Culture
Peer Reviewed : Yes
- School of Humanities