Unfortunately there are only a small number of sports where men and women compete against each other equally regardless of sex. In these sports, the physical differences between men and women are deemed not to have any effect on the outcome of any competition.
True Mixed Sex Sports
- Horse Racing: On the Flat and over jumps, women and men ride and compete against each other equally. And in a recent study it was concluded that female riders perform no better or worse than their male counterparts on horses of similar ability.
- Equestrian: An Olympic sport in which competitors ride horses, male and female riders compete head top head against each other in eventing, dressage and show jumping disciplines. The reason for this is that the attributes required to be successful are to be a confident and able rider of horses, something in which the sexes don’t differ. Equestrian is the only Olympic event of men and women competing directly head-to-head and the events are dominated by women. It’s estimated that two thirds of the approx 30,000 athletes in the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) database of competitors in the Olympic equestrian are female.
- Sailing: Men and women compete together in sailing in one particular class, the Nacre 17. All other classes are segregated by sex.
- Motorbike Racing: Doesn’t have gender barriers and female riders are starting to make a lot of progress in the sports. In September 2017 Ana Carrasco, a 20-year-old from Spain, became the first woman to win a world championship motorcycle race in Portimao, Portugal.
- Darts: On the 17th December 2019, Fallon Sherrock made darts history, beating Ted Evetts 3-2 to become the first woman to beat a man at the PDC World Championship. Sherrock is only the fifth woman to take part in the men’s PDC world championship. She had this to say after her win “I feel really happy because I have proven something for women’s darts, that women can play the men and beat them”
Mixed Teams / Doubles
- Badminton: As well as having separate male and female competitions, men and women compete as a male/female duo in mixed doubles competitions.
- Tennis: Like badminton, has separate male and female competitions, but men and women also compete as a male/female team in mixed doubles matches. The 10 greatest ladies tennis players
- Luge: The luge used to have a doubles competition in which male and female teams were allowed, but from 2014 the doubles event was replaced by the mixed relay, which is competed by teams with equal numbers of men and women.
- Ice skating: Male/female pairs compete together performing a dance on the ice.
Great examples of women competing against men
Billy Jean King v Bobby Riggs
In 1973, pros Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs faced off in a tennis game that became known as the famous “The Battle of the Sexes.” Fifty million people in the U.S. and 90 million worldwide watched 29-year-old King play against 55-year-old Riggs at the Houston Astrodome. King made a stunning comeback after falling behind during the first set. She won all three sets, winning 6 to 3 in the third set.
King went on to lead the fight for women’s equality in tennis, forcing the U.S. Open to pay equal prize money for women as far back as 1973. This was an incredible achievement, especially when you consider that Wimbledon and Roland-Garros didn’t offer equal prizes until well into the next century. Fellow tennis legend Martina Navratilova summed up King’s contribution when she described her as “a crusader fighting a battle for all of us.
Karsten Braasch v the Williams Sisters
During the 1998 Australian Open, sisters Serena and Venus Williams boasted that they could beat any man ranked outside the world’s top 200. The challenge was accepted by Karsten Braasch, a German player ranked No 203 (his highest ranking was No 38).
He defeated Serena, 6-1, and Venus, 6-2. Serena said afterwards “I didn’t know it would be that hard. I hit shots that would have been winners on the women’s tour and he got to them easily.”
Danica Patrick Breaks Barriers At NASCAR
Danica Patrick is not only considered the most successful woman in the history of American car racing. Stock car racing since her youth, Patrick won the Indy Japan 300 in 2008, becoming the first and only woman to win an IndyCar Series race. In 2009, Patrick placed third in the Indianapolis 500 and marked the highest finish by a female driver in that race. In 2013, she became the first female NASCAR driver to take a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Carissa Moore Scores Surfing Title
Carissa Moore has won several women’s competitions, but her most important victory came in 2007 when she won the Quicksilver King of the Groms event against male competitors. In 2011, Moore was the first female to earn a wild card entry spot into the Men’s Triple Crown of Surfing.
Moore has also inducted into the Surfers’ Hall of Fame.