While women lacked the international support to request full inclusion in the Olympics, they did get a foot in the door through leisure sports. Excluded from the 1896 Olympics, the first female participants were the nineteen women who competed at the 1900 Games in Paris. The Games lasted six months and many events were casual and some were mixed up with events in the Paris World’s Fair that was occurring simultaneously. The confusion aided women’s inclusion in three events. The events were tennis, golf and yachting, although none of the women competed in yachting.

An American woman named Margaret Abbot was studying art in Paris at the time, and as she enjoyed golf and had already won several tournaments in the U.S., she decided to enter the golfing competition. Abbot, born in 1878 in India, won the nine-hole golf tournament with a score of 47. She is now recognized as the first female American Olympian winner. For her prize she received a bowl of Old Saxon porcelain mounted in chiseled gold but due to the confusion at the Games, she never knew she was an Olympic champion. Only recent research has shown that the golf tournament was on the Olympic program.[iv] Golf was never played at the Olympics again.

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