Jockey Diane Crump, A Pioneer For Women

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As a 19-years-old she also became the first woman to compete in the Kentucky Derby in 1970. “It was great for me as a rider, as a female and as a person,” Crump said. /CNN

 In the 1960’s, when hippies were protesting the Vietnam war, in the middle of the civil and women’s rights movements, one woman was making waves in sports; Diane Crump, the first female jockey was this pioneer. 

The first professional female jockey in the U.S. was just 18 years old when she competed in her first race. Crump was so unwelcomed in that race, she needed a police escort! 

In an interview with CNN, the now grandmother of two recalls the mayhem that surrounded her as she took to the Hialeah Park Race Track in Florida in 1969.  “The crowd was just swarming all over me. They were crazy, up in arms,” Crump told CNN. “The hecklers were yelling: ‘Go back to the kitchen and cook dinner.’ That was the mentality at the time. “They thought I was going to be the downfall of the whole sport, which is such a medieval thought. I was like: ‘Come on people, this is the 1960s!'” 

Today there are several dozen female jockeys racing professionally in North America, compared with the hundreds of male jockeys who still dominate the sport. Women are making strides, slowly but surely. Earlier this year, Chantal Sutherland, who we featured on our facebook page back in March, became the first female jockey to compete in the world’s richest horse race, the $10 million Dubai World Cup.

In the sixties, the male jockeys would refuse to race with women, some even going as far as throwing rocks at the women’s changing trailers. This forced the women to drop out of races. They were subject to people telling them they weren’t strong enough or smart enough to race against men, or that they wouldn’t be able to handle the pressure.  It wasn’t until officials threatened to fine the jockeys refusing to ride against females that the women were finally able to compete. 

Crump recalls her first race after the officials stepped in, “Everyone cheered me when I came back. Sure, I had a handful of hecklers, but for the most part I never encountered too much trouble from the crowd after that.” 

The CNN article is worth reading in it’s entirety as Crump recounts many interesting details and anecdotes from her racing career, which lasted three decades. She became the first of only six women to compete in the Kentucky Derby.  In 1992,  while juggling family life and racing, she was in a horrible accident, breaking her leg in seven places. The doctors told her she would never race again but, of course, she did! With metal braces on her leg, a true bionic woman, she continued to race until her retirement in 1999.

She is an equal rights activist, a pioneer, an athlete, a mother, a grandmother, and a BIONIC WOMAN!  She is a woman from whom we can all learn. We should spread the word and celebrate her! Read the whole CNN article HERE


Please support our effort to bring more attention to women’s sports and female athletes by sharing this post. Thank you! – Team WSN 


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