A few months ago I ran a post titled Olympic Trivia, in which I claimed Princess Anne had found fame as being the only lady never to have to undergo a gender test at an Olympic game. It seemed a fair claim to make – the story is all over the internet. However, all might not be as it seems. I did get a comment at the bottom of that post to suggest that this Royal exemption story is not all it’s cracked up to be. I took the email address left by the commenter, typed it into Google and hunted around the internet for him/her. It was an address in use by an equestrian competitor at the same Olympic Games. And it was a ‘her’ to boot. One of the famed ‘non-exempted’.
I wrote to her on Facebook and got a more detailed response. Apparently, all the female competitors “argued that we competed on an equal basis, and therefore it was not necessary to do the gender test.” That sounds both reasonable and plausible. I have hunted high and low for evidence to support the story of Anne being the only person to have escaped gender testing, and found nothing. Not a thing. Nada. It’s like the story sprang from thin air.
I suspect that, if the female competitors had to argue their case against gender testing as suggested by the aforementioned commenter, then the original IOC plan must have been to permit Anne an exemption – and that is probably where the myth began. It’s a successful myth, and you’ll find it all over the web. I didn’t find a single website stating that this story is just an old legend though, so let me set the record straight here – Princess Anne was not the only female Olympian to be exmpted from a gender test in 1976. Perhaps I finally have a world exclusive scoop?! But probably not…
I thought about posting a video of Princess Anne doing her things at the Olympics, but decided against it. To be completely honest, I can’t think of anything more tedious than horses jumping over stuff. That’s something you either love or hate, and it’s not my cup of tea. So instead, here’s the video which, I believe, will kick off the Olympic experience on your TV on opening night. Edit: no, the video was actually played in Beijing 2008 as part of the handover. Oops. Still…it’s a slick video.