The contestation of... Lina Radke
The victory of an athlete is something that is often contested in big sports organizations. In all cases this contestation is focused on one person, it concerns the effort of a particular athlete. The case of Lina Radke-Batschauer, however, is quite different. Nobody called into question her victory in the Olympic Games of 1928, but her participation, as well as the participation of all women, in middle-distance and long-distance races. What gave rise to this was the exhaustion of most female athletes, who had taken part in the 800m final, which together with five more track events were then included for the first time in the Olympic Games. Lina Radke was the winner of the event and she even broke the world record. She was the first woman - and the last one for 32 years - to be an Olympic winner in the 800m. The 800m women's track event was not included in the following Olympic Games, nor was any other middle and long-distance race. This exclusion had lasted until the Games of Rome in 1960.
Although in the Games of Amsterdam women were allowed for the first time to participate in the 100m, the 800m, the high jump, the discus and the 4x100, the ability of women to take part in track events did not cease to be called into question. Instead, it was intensified after the end of the Games. The exhausted female athletes of the 800m was the lead in the papers and "scientific" views were presented that proved that the physiology of women did not allow them to bear the strain that competitive sport required, especially in athletics. At a time when the adoption of biological and racial theories by broad social strata was escalating, especially in Europe, those views did more than convince: they shaped history by legalizing attitudes and beliefs that had survived until the first postwar decades. Therefore, it was judged that women could only participate in short distances, up to 200m. As a result, Lina Radke - among others of course - could not participate in the Olympic Games again.
Radke was born in 1903 in Karlsruhe, Germany and in 1917 she moved with her family in Baden-Baden. In 1923 she became a member of the local sports association and took part in local and national women's championships in the 1000m, which changed to 800m in 1927. Radke was contested by her male fellow athletes in Baden-Baden only after her success in the Olympic Games of Amsterdam. Germany reappeared in the Games after 16 years (1912, Stockholm) and Radke won on behalf of her country the first gold medal in a track event after 24 years (1904, Saint Louis). Of course, that was not enough for her to be able to participate in any other Olympic organization. She ended her athletic career in 1934 in the world women's championship in London, where she won the bronze medal in the 800m. She died on 14 February 1983, at a time when female sport was a totally different matter.


The Olympic Games in Antiquity:
From ancient Olympia to Athens of 1896