Alice Milliat, Marie Marvingt, Althéa Gibson… These names of champions are beginning to adorn the pediments of gymnasiums or stadiums a little more to make famous sportswomen who are often overlooked visible.
“It’s making the invisible visible”, sums up Marie-Françoise Potereau, head of diversity at the French Olympic Committee (CNOSF) to describe this process underway in communities. And thus allow young sportswomen to “project themselves” into a champion model.
This is how Marie Marvingt, aviator, cyclist, swimmer – she swam across Paris in 1906 and took part in the Tour de France against the advice of the organizers – became the new name of the Stade du Mans, after being called MMArena due to a naming contract.
A Parisian swimming pool also bears the name of this intrepid woman nicknamed “the bride of danger”, whom nothing stopped.
Another sports figure that has come out of oblivion for a few years: that of Alice Milliat, a pioneer of women’s sport, at the origin of the first women’s Olympic Games in Paris in 1922.
“At the time, we passed them over in silence,” observes Marie-Françoise Potereau, a former professional cyclist.
– Sports names 9 times out of 10 –
In Romainville (Saint-Saint-Denis), a brand new multi-sports gymnasium has been named after Alice Milliat for two years, as has a swimming pool in Pantin.
In Bourges, the renovated ice rink has just been baptized Sarah Abitbol, named after the figure skating champion who broke the silence in 2020 on the rapes she had suffered in her adolescence from her trainer.
According to a 2018 study by the Egal Sport association, just over 10% of equipment bears the name of an athlete, and when this is the case, nine times out of 10, it is a male. Among the most honored sportswomen: Colette Besson, Olympic champion in the 400 meters at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico, but behind the scientist Marie Curie.
Next inauguration in sight: on May 20 in Limoges, a BMX track which will take the name of Anne-Caroline Chausson, the first Olympic champion in the history of BMX in 2008.
“It’s an added value in the sporting world, especially since more and more girls practice this sport”, rejoices with AFP Marie Laure Brunaud, vice-president of the Limoges club and the regional committee. New cycling Aquitaine.
– A Marianne-Mako stadium –
The city of Livry-Gargan (Seine-Saint-Denis) will baptize a football field on Wednesday with the name of Marianne-Mako, the first journalist to intervene on the set of the program “Téléfoot”, a native of the city and who died in 2018.
The president of the Paris Olympics organizing committee (Cojo), Tony Estanguet, should be present, because the Cojo decided a few months ago to encourage local authorities to name or rename gymnasiums and stadiums to women as part of the actions that the Cojo leads in favor of parity.
“Sixty cities” contacted Paris-2024, recently explained Raphael Leclerc, one of its managers. Moreover, in recent years, it is not uncommon to see communities organize votes to feminize the names of streets or facilities, as in Tours.
“Parity also involves the + naming + of sports equipment. We are very, very far from it. However, it is essential because it highlights sportswomen, it values them, it affects the younger generations and it can inspire them. . And not just women. It breaks down stereotypes, breaks codes,” fencer Astrid Guyard told AFP.
In Paris, after the Althéa Gibson gymnasium, American tennis and golf champion, the city will soon propose to name the two gymnasiums adjoining the Arena La Chapelle after Alice Cochman, the first African-American Olympic champion athlete at the Olympic Games. -1948 from London (high jump), and Aimée Lallement who participated in the first women’s Olympic Games in Paris in 1922.