Women's sports include amateur and professional competitions in virtually all sports. Female participation in sports rose dramatically in the twentieth century, especially in the last quarter, reflecting changes in modern societies that emphasized gender parity. Although the level of participation and performance still varies greatly by country and by sport, women's sports have broad acceptance throughout the world, and in a few instances, such as tennis and figure skating, rival or exceed their male counterparts in popularity.
Few women competed in sports until the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as social changes in Europe and North America favored increased female participation in society as equals with men. Although women were permitted to participate in many sports, relatively few showed interest, and there was often disapproval of those who did. The modern Olympics had female competitors from 1900 onward, though women at first participated in considerably fewer events than men. Concern over the physical strength and stamina of women led to the discouragement of female participation in more physically intensive sports, and in some cases led to less physically demanding female versions of male sports. Thus netball was developed out of basketball and softball out of baseball.
The women's road race was one of the cycling events at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. It took place on 10 August 2008, featuring 66 women from 33 countries. It was the seventh appearance of an Olympic women's road race event and featured a longer course than any of the previous six races. The race was run on the Urban Road Cycling Course (one of Beijing's nine temporary venues), which is 102.6 kilometres (63.8 mi) in its entirety. Including a second lap around the 23.8 km (14.8 mi) final circuit, the total distance of the women's race was 126.4 km (78.5 mi), less than half the length of the men's race.
Heavy rain during the entire race made conditions difficult for the competitors. A group of five was able to break away during the final lap and worked together until the final sprint, where Nicole Cooke placed herself in position to win the race. Cooke earned Great Britain's first medal at these Games and 200th Olympic gold medal overall. Emma Johansson of Sweden and Tatiana Guderzo of Italy, finishing second and third place with the same time as Cooke, received silver and bronze medals respectively.
The race also marked the first positive drug test of the 2008 Olympic Games, by María Isabel Moreno of Spain. She was to have taken part in this event and the time trial to follow, but had left Beijing on 31 July, before the race. It was revealed on 11 August that she had tested positive for EPO. This left 66 cyclists to compete, one fewer than in 2004.
The Women's Rugby World Cup is the premier international competition in rugby union for women. The tournament is organised by the sport's governing body the International Rugby Board (IRB). The championships are currently held every four years the event was most recently held in England in 2010.
The first Women's Rugby World Cup was held in 1991, and won by the United States, though it and the subsequent 1994 competition were not officially sanctioned by the IRB. It was not until the 1998 tournament held in the Netherlands that the tournament received official IRB backing. The current world champions, and the most successful team, are New Zealand.
In March 2007, the Riding for the Disabled Association Singapore (RDA) invited Tan to join the Singapore team for the World Para Dressage Championships at Hartpury College in Hartpury, Gloucester, in England in July that year. At this event, her first international competition, she did well enough to qualify for the 2008 Paralympic Games. In September 2008, at the Hong Kong Olympic Equestrian Centre at Sha Tin, she achieved bronze medals in the Individual Championship and Individual Freestyle Tests (class IA). These were Singapore's first Paralympic medals and Asia's first equestrian medals at the Paralympic Games. Tan was conferred the Pingat Bakti Masyarakat (Public Service Medal) by the President of Singapore at a ceremony at the Istana Singapore on 20 September 2008.