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South African Women stars

The 15th Modern Olympic Games, Helsinki, Finland

The Games at Helsinki saw the return to the Olympic arena of Russia. This country’s previous participation was in 1912. Germany and Japan was also for the first time since the war invited to re-enter the Olympic arena.

The biggest contingent to ever to represent South Africa at an Olympic Games at that time was selected for the Games in Finland. South Africa selected a team of no less that 65, including only five women.

It was the women, nevertheless, that brought glory back home to South Africa.

Esther Brand won the high jump three months before her thirtieth birthday. This Gold Medal was the first ever won by a South African woman at an Olympic Games.

In the swimming pool the 16 year old schoolgirl from East London, Joan Harrison, won the Gold Medal in the 100 meters backstroke. It would be another 44 years before South Africa won another Gold Medal in the pool.

After been almost ignored for many years, these two Gold Medals were an Olympic triumph for all South African women.