Women’s Basketball Makes Olympic Debut: A Look Back at the 1976 Montreal Games

In 1976, 40 years after the first appearance of basketball in the Olympic Games for men, the women were also entitled to their tournament. In Montreal, if the Soviet Union team dominates the tournament, it is above all a competition which will remain engraved as the starting point of great Olympic adventures. With a nice surprise from the land of the rising sun.

We can legitimately ask the question: why did we have to wait until 1976 to see women playing basketball as part of an Olympic fortnight? Well… it’s complicated. FIBA has been determined since the 1950s to see a tournament for women at the Games, but despite guardiolesque pressure on the International Olympic Committee for more than 20 years, the latter only finally opened up a place for women’s basketball in 1976.

And be careful, we are talking about a reduced tournament: only 6 teams, compared to double for the men. Qualification level? Canada is naturally invited as host, and the United States, Japan, the USSR, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia complete the field. France ? Eliminated in a qualifying tournament, see you in Sydney in 24 years.

USA Basketball mourns the loss of The Queen of Basketball, Lusia Harris.

Lusia was a 1976 Olympic silver medalist, scored the first points in Olympic women’s basketball history & became the first Black woman inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992. pic.twitter.com/ISrRjIqM3x

— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) January 19, 2022

And so, this tournament? A pool of 6, everyone competes against everyone and the first in the ranking is Olympic champion. Minimal hassle on the part of the IOC who probably didn’t really have much to say about it, which is a shame given the scale of the Ouliana Semenova phenomenon. A Soviet woman over 2m10 tall, who dominated the tournament like never before. The United States can’t do anything about it, nor can Yugoslavia and even less so Japan and Bulgaria. Canada, the organizing country, achieves 5/5: all matches lost, a great performance… if you like. Little more historical note: a stone’s throw from Uncle Sam’s country, still marked by racism, it was an African-American, Lusia Harris, who scored the first points in the history of women’s basketball at the Games.

The other nice surprise of this Quebec fortnight? Japan. A team which is only a hair above the 1m70 average (enough to make a great footrest for Semenova) but which will achieve the feat of beating the United States, 84-71. The edition was logically won by the USSR, ahead of the United States and Bulgaria. This tournament will forever remain as the first in a long line, which will slowly lead to unchallenged domination of the United States. Until when ? This summer, we hope so.

Source: USA Basketball, Retro Basketball

2024-04-19 15:07:41
#finally #basketball #tournament #ladies

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