Women Olympians: A Quiz

July 27, 2012

The 2012 Olympic Games kick off tonight with the opening ceremonies in London. It’s been an exciting year for women athletes — but how much do you know about the history of women in the Olympics? Take our quiz — see how many you can answer without clicking the link in each question! Some answers you’ll know, but others might shock you. Good luck!

    1. What were doctors’ arguments against letting women participate in the Olympics when the games were reinstituted in the 1890s? (Though not allowed to participate, women were encouraged to applaud the male athletes since acclaim from ladies was considered part of the winner’s award.)
      • A. Women weren’t physically capable — due to lower muscle tone, for example — of the level of competition found at the Olympics.
      • B. Due to the amount of energy women expended for reproduction, little was left for physical, psychic, or intellectual endeavors.
      • C. The lack of support provided by the Olympic uniforms would permanently damage a woman’s physique and potentially leave her unable to bear children.
    2. The 1900 Olympics in Paris was the first to allow women competitors. Twenty-two women out of a total of 997 athletes competed in just five sports: tennis, sailing, croquet, equestrian, and golf.  Which two sports were for women only?
      • A. Tennis and sailing
      • B. Tennis and golf
      • C. Equestrian and sailing
    3. Which of the following people — whose spouse presided over the opening of a Winter Olympics— took a run down the bobsled course?
      • A. Eleanor Roosevelt, whose  husband, New York’s then-Gov. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, presided over the 1932 Olympic Games in Lake Placid, New York
      • B. Carla Gronchi, whose husband, Italian President Giovanni Gronchi, opened the 1956 Olympiad in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy
      • C. Jean-Daniel Lafond, whose  wife, Governor General of Canada Michaëlle Jean, presided over the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada
    4. Who was the first female athlete to win four gold medals in one Olympiad? The 30-year-old mother of two was considered the most successful athlete of that Olympics.
      • A. Dutch track and field athlete Francina Elsje Blankers-Koen at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London
      • B. Gymnast Larisa Latynina, who represented the Soviet Union, at the 1956 Summer Games in Melbourne, Australia
      • C. Kristin Otto, an East German swimmer, at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea
    5. There is only one mother-daughter combination of Olympic medal winners in history. American Pat McCormick won a total of four gold medals at the 1952 and 1956 Summer Olympics. Her daughter Kelly McCormick won a silver medal in 1984 and a bronze medal in 1988. In which sport did they compete?
      • A. 400-meter hurdles
      • B. Diving
      • C. Equestrian
    6. Named the fastest woman in the world, this American won three gold medals in one Olympiad. Who was she?

      Considered the fastest woman in the world at the time, who was the first American woman to win three gold medals in a single Olympiad?

      • A. Valerie Ann Brisco-Hooks
      • B. Wilma Rudolph
      • C. Florence Griffith-Joyner
    7. In what year did women first compete in the Olympic marathon?
      • A. 1928
      • B. 1960
      • C. 1984
    8. This female athlete was the first person to win Olympic gold for her country and was also the first woman from an Islamic nation to win an Olympic medal. She has since served on the International Olympic Committee and was the president of the evaluation commissions that selected the host cities for the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Who is she?
      • A. Nawal el Moutawakel
      • B. Bahiya al-Hamad
      • C. Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani
    9. Who was the first (and only) athlete to win Winter and Summer Olympic medals in the same year? (The Summer

      This athlete won medals in the Summer and Winter Olympics — in the same year! Who was she?

      and Winter Olympics were held in the same year until 1992.)

      • A. Sonja Henie of Norway for figure skating and gymnastics in 1928
      • B. Christa Luding-Rothenburger of East Germany for speedskating and cycling in 1988
      • C. Bonnie Blair of the United States for speedskating and 100-meter track in 1992
    10. Which athlete has won the most Olympic medals in history (18!), nine of them gold?
      • A. U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps
      • B. Soviet Union gymnast Larisa Latynina
      • C. Italian fencer Edoardo Mangiarotti
    11. In what year did the IOC decide that any new sport introduced for the Olympic games had to include both men’s and women’s events?
      • A. 1978
      • B. 1991
      • C. 2010
    12. In what year did the United States first send more women athletes to the games than men? Well, I can’t resist, let me just tell you that answer: 2012!

“The United States of America will be represented at the Olympic Games in London by 530 of our country’s finest individuals. They are our nation’s greatest athletes and embody what it means to be American,” said U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun. “I’m also proud that for the first time in history, the U.S. Olympic Team features more women than men — a true testament to the impact of Title IX, which in its 40-year history has increased sport opportunities for millions of females across the United States.”

How did you do? You can double check your answers with the key below. Please share any additional fun facts about women Olympians in the comments section. And may all the athletes have a safe Olympiad!


    1. B
    2. B
    3. A
    4. A
    5. B
    6. B
    7. C
    8. A
Christy Jones, CAE By:   |   July 27, 2012


  1. Avatar RL says:

    As part of a Louis Vuitton ad, Michael Phelps was photographed with Larisa Latynina! He just broke her record for the Olympic athlete with the most medals last week. Hopefully this leads to some great coverage about Ms. Latynina’s past success.


  2. christyjones christyjones says:

    Thanks Ruth, I had checked several sources before posting that – I’ll now go back and send them a message there is another mother-daughter combination of Olympic Medal winners in history!

  3. Avatar Ruth D says:

    Q5: “There is only one mother-daughter combination of Olympic medal winners in history. ”

    I don’t think that’s quite right – there’s another pair described here:


    “Violet Webb (1915-99) had been a member of the British track and field 4 x 100m relay quartet which won Olympic bronze in St Louis in 1932. It meant a delicious piece of history when Janet Simpson took her place on the podium in Tokyo in 1964 after also finishing third as part of the 4 x 100m team. It remains the only time a British mother and daughter have won athletics medals at the Olympics.”

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