The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018) will be the first in history of a major multi-sports Games to have an equal number of men and women’s medal events.
Seven new women’s events and categories have been added to the programme, putting them on par with men.
Traditionally, women were not allowed to participate in the Commonwealth Games, they were exclusively for men.
However, since the 1930 British Empire Games in Hamilton, Ontario women’s impact on the Games has grown stronger and stronger.
The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) vision of ‘gender equality’ is in reach.
Today, on International Women’s Day we celebrate the achievements and milestones in women’s Commonwealth Games history.
At almost 62 years of age, Roche became Australia’s oldest gold medallist winning the women’s fours in lawn bowls at the Auckland 1990 Commonwealth Games.
Having only taken up competitive lawn bowls in 1975, Roche proved age and gender are no barrier.
Madame Butterfly, as she is affectionately known, was 17 when her career took off at the Auckland 1990 Commonwealth Games, winning both gold and silver medals.
At 19, O’Neil forged her way into history by breaking Mary T Meagher’s world record in the 200m butterfly to become Australian swimming’s only female world title holder. Her record stood for 12 years until bettered by a Polish swimmer in 2002.
Since making her Victoria 1994 Commonwealth Games debut, Petria Thomas has undergone an array of career threatening injuries, including three shoulder reconstructions and an ankle operation. Yet, she has continued to shine as one of the nation’s leading female performers in the pool, winning nine gold medals throughout her Commonwealth Games career.
Cathy Freeman was the first indigenous Australian to become a Commonwealth Games medallist.
A highly decorated sprinter, whose most triumphant moment was at the Victoria 1994 Commonwealth Games. After winning the 400 metres, Freeman took a lap of honour carrying the Aboriginal flag above her head in full flight. Freeman was widely criticised for her actions, but maintained her strong support for her people and her culture.
Commonwealth Games medallist Jenny Donnet, comes from a long line of talented female divers.
In 1982, Donnet won gold in the 3m springboard diving event at the Brisbane Commonwealth Games. She won silver in 1986, and gold in 1990. Decades earlier, in 1954, Donnet’s mother Barbara won a silver medal in the same event and a gold for the 10m platform dive.
Kerryn McCann was best known for her gold medal winning marathon performance at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games.
The home crowd erupted as she ran into the MCG, neck-and-neck with Kenyan Hellen Cheron Koskei. In the final moments, McCann summoned one last burst, crossing the line first for the gold medal.
After her win, McCann said she had prepared herself for silver and could settle for that.
“I came up to the stadium thinking ‘silver’s pretty darn good. I’d be happy with silver’,” she said.
“I came through the tunnel and heard the crowd roar. That wasn’t me running that last 300m.”
In 2007, McCann was diagnosed with breast cancer and after a yearlong battle with the disease, passed away in 2008. McCann is still recognised today as one of the most inspirational females to represent Australia.
Kerryn McCann’s Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medal moment
Along with her Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games gold medals, Australia’s most successful track cyclist Anna Meares has won 34 national titles and 26 track world championship medals.
In August last year, the Queensland-born athlete was immortalised when the State Government announced the new GC2018 Velodrome will be named in her honour.
Suffering permanent nerve damage in her right arm from a difficult birth, Melissa Tapper competed at the London Paralympics in table tennis. Defying the odds, Tapper qualified for the able-bodied team for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 and defeated India to claim bronze.
Lauren Mitchell made record books at her Commonwealth Games debut in Dehli 2010 as the first female gymnast to win four gold medals, which she holds equally with Canadian athlete Lori Strong.
After suffering a serious knee injury in 2016, Mitchell made the decision to retire from the sport with ‘no regrets’.
Russian born athlete Tatiana Grigorieva migrated to Australia when she was 22, speaking little English.
The former hurdler turned to pole vaulting and within 12 months of practice she won bronze at the New York City 1998 Goodwill Games.
Grigorieva went into her first Commonwealth Games in 2002 as the overwhelming favourite, fending off the pressure, she won gold and set a new games record.