Only men could take part in the ancient Olympic games. Married women were not even allowed to watch the events. Women caught sneaking in were punished!
In every Greek city there was a gymnasium. That is where boys went to school and trained as athletes. The boys who went to the gymnasium were mostly from rich families. They studied arithmetic, reading and music, along with lots of physical education.
Although women were not allowed into the Olympic Games, they still did sports. Young girls had their own Games called the Heraia, in honor of the goddess Hera, the wife of Zeus.
The Heraia was held every four years and had running races only. There were 3 separate races for girls, teenagers, and young women.
Women were not allowed to compete in the Olympics until the 1900 games in Paris. There were 19 women out of a total of 1,225 athletes. The women did tennis, golf and croquet.
Women competed in swimming events for the first time in 1912. But none of them were from America, which did not allow female athletes to compete in events without wearing long skirts!