Olympics of Grace

The Olympics of Grace (Italian: Olimpiadi della Grazia) was an early international multi-sport event for women[2] that was held from 29–31 May 1931 in Florence, Italy. Primarily composed of track and field events and contested by women from eleven European countries, the competition was a forerunner to women's participation in the European Athletics Championships.[3]

1931 Olympics of Grace
Host cityFlorence
Country Italy
Dates29–31 May 1931[1]
Opening ceremony
Marie Dollinger
Trebisonda Valla (on right)
Relay team Gunn-Seary-Ridgley-Halstead
Relay team Fleischer-Dollinger-Lorenz-Gelius-Hargus
Tilly Fleischer
Bruna Bertolini, Jolanda Bacchelli and Pierina Borsani


The formation of the International Women's Sports Federation (FSFI) and the hosting of the 1921 Women's World Games in Monte Carlo, led by Alice Milliat, marked the growth of organised international women's sport.[4] The Grand Council of Fascism in Italy was partly encouraging of the movement but stated that, regardless of sporting prowess, motherhood was a woman's most important role.[5] Women's engagement in sport fitted the views of Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator, whose feminine ideal concerned rural, strong and fertile women, in opposition to ostentation and cosmopolitanism.[6] Still, reflecting the social background of antagonism or ambivalence towards pure athleticism in women,[original research?] the 1931 sporting event was designated the Olympics of Grace. International promotional material around the event stressed it "will be devoted not to contests of speed, strength or skill, but to exhibitions of gymnastic grace".[7][8]

The tournament was supported by Italian women's sports organisations as well as the FSFI. It was not sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Both this event and the Women's World Games led to greater inclusion of women at the Olympic Games.[9] The number of Olympic women athletes increased over five-fold from the 1920 to the 1936 Summer Olympics (65 to 331).[10][11]

In addition to the track and field events, a dancing competition was held and the winner's cup was presented to a troupe of German dancers under the tutelage of Mary Wigman, one of the originators of modern expressionist dance.[12] It is not known what other events were held in Florence besides dance and athletics.

Medal summaryEdit


Event Gold Silver Bronze
60 metres   Nellie Halstead (GBR) 8.0   Lisa Gelius (GER) ?   Detta Lorenz (GER) ?
100 metres   Marie Dollinger (GER) 12.6   Daisy Ridgeley (GBR) 12.8   Lisa Gelius (GER) 12.8
200 metres   Nellie Halstead (GBR) 25.8   Marie Dollinger (GER) 26.0   Mary Seary (GBR) ?
80 metres hurdles   Muriel Cornell (GBR) 13.0   Ondina Valla (ITA) 13.2   Jacqueline Combernoux (FRA) ?
4×75 metres relay   Great Britain (GBR)
Nellie Halstead
Muriel Cornell
Mary Seary
Daisy Ridgley
38.6   Italy (ITA)
Lidia Bongiovanni
Maria Bravin
Tina Steiner
Giovanna Viarengo
39.2   Czechoslovakia (TCH)
Anna Hřebřinová
Anna Krausová
Zdeňka Smolová
Anna Kuznickova
4×100 metres relay   Great Britain (GBR)
Nellie Halstead
Muriel Cornell
Mary Seary
Daisy Ridgley
51.4   Germany (GER)
Tilly Fleischer
Marie Dollinger
Detta Lorenz
Lisa Gelius
51.8   Czechoslovakia (TCH)
Anna Hřebřinová
Anna Krausová
Zdeňka Smolová
Anna Kuznickova
Swedish relay   Great Britain (GBR)
Nellie Halstead
Muriel Cornell
Mary Seary
Daisy Ridgley
55.6   Germany (GER)
Marie Dollinger
Lisa Gelius
Detta Lorenz
Augustine Hargus
55.8   Austria (AUT)
Herma Schurinek
Veronika Kohlbach
Liesl Perkaus
Maria Weese
High jump   Katalin Vértessy (HUN) 1.45 m   Jelka Tratnik (YUG) 1.45 m   Mary Seary (GBR) 1.40 m
Long jump   Muriel Cornell (GBR) 5.46 m   Augustine Hargus (GER) 5.20 m   Jelka Tratnik (YUG) 5.03 m
Shot put   Tilly Fleischer (GER) 12.23 m   Wanda Jasieńska (POL) 11.64 m   Liesl Perkaus (AUT) 11.33 m
Discus throw   Slava Blehová (TCH) 36.51 m   Tilly Fleischer (GER) 34.47 m   Helena Berson (POL) 34.38 m
Javelin throw   Tilly Fleischer (GER) 37.27 m   Augustine Hargus (GER) 35.75 m   Pierina Borsani (ITA) 31.18 m


Eleven European countries competed at the Olympics of Grace. Final standings.[2]

Team Nation Points
1   United Kingdom 77
2   Germany 71
3   Italy 54
4   Czechoslovakia 35
5   Yugoslavia 22
5   Austria 22
6   Romania 17,5
7   Poland 16
8   France 10,5
9   Belgium 6
9   Hungary 6


  1. ^ "Le Olimpiadi della Grazia" (PDF). FIDAL. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  2. ^ a b Le Olimpiadi della Grazia (seconda parte) FIDAL (Federazione Italiana di Atletica Leggera) (accessdate 15 June 2021)
  3. ^ Olympiad of Grace. GBR Athletics. Retrieved on 2014-01-11.
  4. ^ Gori, Gigliola (2004). Italian Fascism and the Female Body: Sport, Submissive Women and Strong Mothers (pg. 154). Routledge. 978-0714682914.
  5. ^ Lo Sport (in Italian). La Donna nel Fascismo. Retrieved on 2014-01-11.
  6. ^ Rizzoli, Biancamaria (2012-09-12). Il costume e la moda. (in Italian). Moda Arte. Retrieved on 2014-01-11.
  7. ^ Florence Jan. 8, page 17. The San Bernardino County Sun (1931-01-09). Retrieved on 2014-01-11.
  8. ^ "Olympics of Grace" for Women. The Spokesman-Review (25 January 1931). Retrieved on 2014-01-11.
  9. ^ Leigh, Mary H.; Bonin, Thérèse M. (1977). "The Pioneering Role Of Madame Alice Milliat and the FSFI in Establishing International Trade and Field Competition for Women" (PDF). Journal of Sport History. North American Society for Sport History. 4 (1): 72–83. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
  10. ^ Antwerp 1920. IOC. Retrieved on 2014-01-11.
  11. ^ Berlin 1936. IOC. Retrieved on 2014-01-11.
  12. ^ Wellesley College. "The Wellesley News" (1932-12-08). The Wellesley News. Book 935. Retrieved on 2014-01-11.