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Zenobia and the Olympics

Ancient Map of Palmyra, Syria to Olympia, Greece

The ancient Olympics in Greece were held during Zenobia's time. Zenobia studied the Greek language and she enjoyed learning of their history. She may have wanted to travel to watch the games and knowing her competitive nature she may have wanted to participate. However, women were prohibited from directly competing in the events. They were allowed to enter horses in chariot races. These women were banned from driving the chariots themselves, but as owners and trainers they were still eligible to claim the victory wreath.

Cynisca, a princess of Sparta was the first woman in history to win at the ancient Olympic Games. The Spartan princess is frequently used as a symbolic figure of the social rise of woman.[if gte vml 1]><v:shapetype id="_x0000_t75" coordsize="21600,21600" o:spt="75" o:preferrelative="t" path="m@4@5l@4@11@9@11@9@5xe" filled="f" stroked="f"> <v:stroke joinstyle="miter"></v:stroke> <v:formulas> <v:f eqn="if lineDrawn pixelLineWidth 0"></v:f> <v:f eqn="sum @0 1 0"></v:f> <v:f eqn="sum 0 0 @1"></v:f> <v:f eqn="prod @2 1 2"></v:f> <v:f eqn="prod @3 21600 pixelWidth"></v:f> <v:f eqn="prod @3 21600 pixelHeight"></v:f> <v:f eqn="sum @0 0 1"></v:f> <v:f eqn="prod @6 1 2"></v:f> <v:f eqn="prod @7 21600 pixelWidth"></v:f> <v:f eqn="sum @8 21600 0"></v:f> <v:f eqn="prod @7 21600 pixelHeight"></v:f> <v:f eqn="sum @10 21600 0"></v:f> </v:formulas> <v:path o:extrusionok="f" gradientshapeok="t" o:connecttype="rect"></v:path> <o:lock v:ext="edit" aspectratio="t"></o:lock> </v:shapetype><v:shape id="Picture_x0020_2" o:spid="_x0000_i1025" type="#_x0000_t75" alt="Cynisca" href="" style='width:138pt; height:225pt;visibility:visible;mso-wrap-style:square' o:button="t"> <v:fill o:detectmouseclick="t"></v:fill> <v:imagedata src="file:///C:\Users\GEODEP~1\AppData\Local\Temp\msohtmlclip1\01\clip_image001.jpg" o:title="Cynisca"></v:imagedata> </v:shape><![endif][if !vml][endif]

Cynisca a Spartan Princess

Over the years woman have made their place in the Olympics:

  • Women competed for the first time at the 1900 Games in Paris. Of a total of 997 athletes, 22 women competed in five sports: tennis, sailing, croquet, equestrianism and golf.

  • 1908: Madge Syers wins the first women’s Olympic gold medal in figure skating. She also competed as a pair skater with her husband Edgar Syers, winning the bronze medal the same.

  • The 2012 Games in London were the first in which women competed in all the sports on the program. 44 per cent of the participants were women.

  • Gabrielle Douglas is the first woman of color of any nationality and the first African-American gymnast in Olympic history to become the Individual All-Around Champion.

Olympic Gold winner Gabby Douglas

Gabby Douglas after winning the gold medal in the Artistic Gymnastics Women's Individual All-Around London 2012 Olympic Games. Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Zenobia may have been inspired by the stories of the Ancient Olympic Games, just as we can be inspired today as we watch the Olympics.


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