When Women Start To Catch Up

So I was watching the Olympics the other day as I have been every day since they began - somehow I have the uncanny ability to cheer on any and every competitor with unmatched enthusiasm - and I heard something about one of the winning athletes that I found incredibly disturbing. Ye Shiwen, a Chinese   gold-medal swimmer in the 200m and 400m individual medley, was about to begin swimming her 200m heat and even amidst the excitement of the races the announcers couldn’t help but point out the controversy over her record-shattering 400m race. In that race, Ye beat Ryan Lochte’s previous time for the 50m split. A woman beat a man in the same race!   So she MUST be doping. Right? In 2009, another female athlete, runner Caster Semenya, from South Africa, shattered expectations and records when she was just 18 years old in the 800 meter sprint. Because of her “muscular build” and fast times,   she was subjected to the incomprehensible indignity of severe gender testing. People didn’t believe she was a woman!!!!


Am I the only one who is   wondering   - why can’t a woman just be strong and fast and better at a sport than a man without being harassed and accused of all kinds of wounding crimes?

Photo courtesy of "hardloperhans"


The bright light at the end of the tunnel for Caster is that she was named the flag-bearer for South Africa at these Olympic games. She now stands as a testament to the strength, both physical and emotional, of women around the world. To endure what she has endured in the public eye and still come out stronger and faster- heck just to come out in public again makes women proud of her.

Mom and Olympian, Dara Torres. Photo courtesy of My Eye Sees.

The uncomfortable truth is that there is doping and inappropriate drug use in these high level competitions, despite the fact that all athletes undergo stringent drug testing. Ye Shiwen, as one of the top five competitors in her event, would have undergone even further testing than the other athletes. Yes,   athletes who resort to doping   taint the efforts of others, but it is still unfair for officials and the media to question   Shiwen's abilities,   as   she has never failed a drug test. Why is it so unfathomable that a woman was just stronger - that her training, her accessibility to the sport and the opportunities present to her in this day and age make her able to reach heights that no woman has before. This is the first Olympic games where every single competing country has included a female athlete on its team. Imagine the untapped potential and the hidden athleticism lying in wait in so many parts of the world where women are simply waiting for the right time, the right place, and the right support to show that they can break records too, along with their male counterparts. Compare the records and times of women today to the men of the past century and perhaps we can say that with the same drive and encouragement that men have received over the years, women will be competing alongside men in only a few decades.