The dawn of Spanish women’s athletics can be traced back to 1929, when a few women in Madrid and Catalonia decided to make their way into a world until then reserved for men. In Madrid was created the Sociedad Atlética Madrileña, while in Barcelona appeared the Club Femení i d´Esports.
However, some years before, in 1887, there was already news of “walkers”. Among them, a 11 years old girl, known only as the daughter of the walker “Galayo”, had been able to win a challenge from Segovia to Madrid, separated by more than 80 kilometers, to two riders on horseback.
The first women’s athletic meeting took place in Madrid in 1929, organized by the Sociedad Atlética Madrileña. There were only 6 events, but the first national records would emerge here: 60 meters, height jump, weight, discus, long jump and javelin.
Two years later, on October 24 and 25 of 1931, the first Spanish Women’s Athletics Championship would be held in Madrid. It was a direct confrontation between the teams of Castilla and Catalonia, with a victory for the Catalans by 47 points to 40. The victory went back to the Catalan team in the 1932 edition, which was held in Montjuic, although only 4 athletes from Madrid attended. The championships of 1933 and 1935 only had the participation of Catalonia, while in 1934 they were suspended.
These early women competed in men’s clothing, and often in multiple athletic disciplines, as well as in other sports. The hammer throw category deserves special attention from this period, where Spain held the world best performance from 1931 to 1975 thanks to Aurora Villa and the Moles sisters, Lucinda and Margot. The 22.85 meters of the latter would be unbeatable for 43 years.
Then came the Civil War and Franco´s dictatorship, which saw women’s sport as something inappropriate. The role of women was to be limited to housework and having children.
Only after the creation bye Francisco Giner de los Ríos of the Instituto de Libre Enseñanza, which promoted schooling without distinction of sexes, were women able to return to physical activity.
It was necessary to wait until 1963 to have Spanish Women’s Athletics Championships organised again. A ban of more than 25 years had swept away the sports careers and dreams of many of these pioneers of athletics.
We leave only a brief note of some of them:
*Aurora Villa held the national records for height, length, javelin and hammer throw, as well as the 50-meter free-style swimming. In the first women’s national championships, she won 2 of the 9 events in which she participated, while in the second ones she competed in the 10 available, winning 3 of them.
**Margot Moles was the first female champion in athletics, and as we mentioned before, maintained the world best performance in hammer throw between 1932 and 1975. She also stood out in discus, where her Spanish record was valid between 1934 and 1964. Multifaceted also stood out skiing, where she was a national champion, which led her to the Garmisch-Partenkirche Winter Olympics of 1936 to compete in downhill and slalom.
***Nor could we forget Lucinda Moles, Rosa Castelltort and Joaquima Andreu, who with the previous ones were the first ones to enter a world reserved until then uniquely for men.
Wikipedia and “The pioneers of Spanish athletics” by Óscar Martínez (Atletismo Español, February/March 2014).