Women's Day celebrated in grand style - in London
The Times Editorial: It was more than mere serendipity when Bridgitte Hartley won South Africa's fifth medal at the London Olympics yesterday. It must have been written in the stars. It was, after all, Women's Day.
Our Olympic team could not have planned a better celebration of our women. It might have got even better by the time you read this. When this editorial was put to bed last night, Sunette Viljoen was still due to take part in the women's javelin, in which she had been one of the favourites, and Caster Semenya was yet to run in an 800m semifinal, a race in which she is not only a powerful competitor but something of a shrewd tactician too. You can check out their performances in the late editions of The Times, or on our website.
South Africa has been well represented by women at the Olympics. The first medal won by our women was in 1928 and the first golds came at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, when Ester Brand won the high jump and Joan Harrison the 100m backstroke. Swimmer Penny Heyns remains the only South African to have won two gold medals at a single Olympic Games - in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1996.
But the Olympic movement - including the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee - needs to do more to promote women's sports at the Games. Netball, for example, is still not included. There is no good reason for this to continue and our representatives must push the International Olympic Committee to include it soon. If the IOC can allow women's boxing and women's cycling, then it should not object to netball.
At the London Games, there is evidence of some progress. They are the first Games in which every country has a woman representative. The last all-male holdout, Saudi Arabia, relented shortly before the Games.
And last night 80000 people packed Wembley stadium to watch the women's gold medal soccer match between the US and Japan, who were held to a draw by our own women's team - Banyana Banyana.