Mixed-sex sports

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A mixed-sex badminton match 2018-10-12 Badminton Mixed International Team Final match 2 at 2018 Summer Youth Olympics by Sandro Halank-004.jpg
A mixed-sex badminton match
An unofficial mixed doubles match of beach volleyball. Beach volleyball-Huntington Beach-California 3.jpg
An unofficial mixed doubles match of beach volleyball.

Mixed-sex sports (also known as mixed-gender or coed sports) are individual and team sports whose participants are not of a single sex. In organised sports settings, rules usually dictate an equal number of people of each sex in a team (for example teams of one man and one woman). Usually, the main purpose of these rules are to account for physiological sex differences. Mixed-sex sports in informal settings are typically groups of neighbours, friends or family playing without regard to the sex of the participants. Mixed-sex play is also common in children's sports — before puberty and adolescence, sport-relevant sex differences affect performance far less.


There are multiple dynamics to mixed-sex sports. Where sex differences in human physiology do not play a significant role in a person's proficiency in a sport, then men and women may compete in a single open class, as in equestrian sports. When sex is a major factor in a competitor's performance, sports will typically split men and women into separate divisions, but there may be mixed-sex team variants, such as mixed doubles. In artistic judged sports, these physical differences play a key role in performances, as demonstrated in pair figure skating and acrobatic gymnastics.

Mixed-sex sport events may be organised to achieve certain social aims, such as boosting female participation in sport, as a form of exercise, or to improve social harmony between the sexes. [1]

Direct competition

It is uncommon in most organised sports to find individuals of different genders competing head-to-head at elite levels, principally due to physiological differences between the (adult) sexes. In sports where these differences are less linked to performance, it is standard practice for men and women to compete in mixed-sex fields. These open-class sports prove accommodating to intersex athletes, who challenge sex-defined rules of both single-sex events and mixed-sex teams with distinct male and female composition.

In equestrian sports, male and female riders compete against each other in eventing, dressage and show jumping disciplines. Female jockeys compete alongside male ones in horse racing, though the former constitute a minority of jockeys overall. Beyond the human athletes, male and female horses are found in racing, with a roughly 60/40 split at the top level between colts and fillies. [2]

In snooker, the professional tour is open to men and women, although only one woman has to date competed on the tour for a full year (other women have played in individual tournaments). In addition, the separate women-only tour encourages female participation in the sport.

In croquet, three women have won the British Association Croquet Open Championship: Lily Gower in 1905, Dorothy Steel in 1925, 1933, 1935 and 1936, and Hope Rotherham in 1960. In 2018, two international Golf Croquet championships open to both sexes were won by women: Rachel Gee of England beat Pierre Beaudry to win the European Golf Croquet championship, and Hanan Rashad of Egypt beat Yasser Fathy (also from Egypt) to win the World over-50s championship.

The mixed division is a staple of Ultimate (without being the standard)—it is the only division showcased at both the 2013 and 2017 World Games. Seven-player mixed teams (4 men plus 3 women, or 4 women plus 3 men) directly compete. While most often players mark opponents of the same gender, match-ups between people of different gender are not uncommon to see. Open divisions are common in Ultimate, where sex/gender is not explicitly relevant in team composition—although at highest competitive levels male players predominate these divisions. Accordingly, although women's divisions are also common, men's are not (only appearing in settings without open divisions).

In the NCAA, the main governing body of college/university sports in the US, the only sport in which men and women compete against one another directly is rifle shooting. While male and female riders compete against one another in international equestrian sports, NCAA-sanctioned competition is open only to women, currently as part of the NCAA Emerging Sports for Women program. The NCAA awards a combined men's and women's team championship in two sports—fencing and skiing—but all individual bouts or races involve members of the same sex, and teams field separate men's and women's squads.

In dog sled racing, male and female mushers are in direct competition. About 1/3rd of mushers in the Iditarod are female, and finishers in the top ten are proportionately split by gender. [3]

Mixed doubles or pairs

A mixed-sex pair, participating in FINA World Championships of synchronised swimming, waves to the crowd before diving into water. Mixed duet free final (33).jpg
A mixed-sex pair, participating in FINA World Championships of synchronised swimming, waves to the crowd before diving into water.
A mixed-sex pair doing Figure skating. Lillehammer 2016 - Figure Skating Pairs Short Program - Justine Brasseur and Mathieu Ostiguy 3.jpg
A mixed-sex pair doing Figure skating.

A common form of mixed-sex event is for pairs of one male and one female.

Sports based on dancing usually have male/female pairings, such as ice dancing, pair figure skating, ballroom dancing and synchronised swimming duets. In these sports/events, the male and female participants physically work together (often to music) to jointly produce an artistic athletic performance.

Mixed doubles are events where two mixed-sex pairs directly compete (that is, all four competitors are in open play as two teams). This is particularly found in racket sports (which rarely have larger teams), including tennis, table tennis, badminton, squash and racquetball.

Mixed pairs and mixed team events are occasionally organised in contract bridge.

Pairs may also compete in turn-based games: one format (out of many) alternates the woman and man of each pair just as the competing sides alternate, so each round has four turns of individual action. Well-suited to strategy-based sports (such as mixed doubles curling, mixed golf, mixed bowling, mixed team darts) where players can beneficially undertake mental planning or assessment while waiting for their turn. [4] Separate male and female performances may also be scored then added to produce mixed team results in such sports as diving. Synchronised diving is also found in mixed-sex format. In professional wrestling, mixed tag team matches do not explicitly alternate in a turn-based manner but each wrestler only faces their opponent of the same sex (switching occurs at players′ discretion). [5] [6]

Mixed relay

In non-vehicular racing sports the physiological differences between the sexes often preclude head-to-head competition between people of different sexes at the elite level. Mixed-sex events are often held though with a relay race format.

In running, a 4 × 400 meters mixed relay race was introduced at the 2017 IAAF World Relays, and will be added to the 2019 World Championships in Athletics and 2020 Summer Olympics. In addition, a 2 × 2 × 400 m and shuttle hurdles mixed relay races were introduced at the 2019 IAAF World Relays. The Match Europe v USA in 2019 had a mixed 200+200+400+800 metres sprint medley relay.

In cross country running, a 4 × 2 km mixed relay race was added at the 2017 IAAF World Cross Country Championships.

In swimming, mixed relay races were introduced at the 2014 FINA World Swimming Championships (25 m) (4 × 50 m freestyle and medley) and the 2015 World Aquatics Championships (4 × 100 m freestyle and medley). The event will debut at the 2020 Summer Olympics (4 × 100 m medley). In open water swimming, mixed-gendered relays were introduced at the 2011 World Aquatics Championships (4 × 1250 m).

In triathlon, the ITU Triathlon Mixed Relay World Championships mixed relay race has been held since 2009. Also, the triathlon at the Youth Olympic Games has a mixed relay race since 2010, and the event will be introduced at the 2020 Summer Olympics. As in standard triathlons, each triathlon competitor must do a segment of swimming, cycling and running.

In biathlon, a mixed relay race was first held at the Biathlon World Championships 2005 in Khanty-Mansiysk (4 × 6 km), and it was added to the 2014 Winter Olympics (4 × 6 km / 7.5 km).

In road cycling, the 2019 UCI Road World Championships introduced a team time trial mixed relay where first three men and then three women ride together as a national team. [7] Distances vary in road cycling. The 2019 race is 2 × 14 km.

Mixed team ball sports

Mixed-sex forms of ball sports involve set numbers of each sex per team, sometimes defining the roles in the team by sex/gender (examples include korfball, Baseball5, coed softball, quidditch, dodgeball, tag rugby and wheelchair rugby).



Sports were almost never mixed in any way in ancient Greece (with the significant exception of Sparta). [8] Women were forbidden from competing in or viewing the ancient Olympic games. [note 1] They competed at the separate Heraean games, from which men were excluded. [9] Although taking place in the same stadium as the Olympic games and also every four years, it was an unrelated festival (of Hera) with fewer sport events, none of which exactly matched Olympic counterparts. Olympic winners were honoured in the Sanctuary of Zeus; Heraean winners at the Temple of Hera (where since 1936 the modern movement has lit and kept the Olympic Flame). [10]


Andy Murray and Laura Robson competing in the tennis mixed doubles event at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Andy Murray and Laura Robson -Wimbledon, London 2012 Olympics-3Aug2012-c.jpg
Andy Murray and Laura Robson competing in the tennis mixed doubles event at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Mixed-sex sport has a long history at the modern Olympic Games, dating back to the 1900 Summer Olympics (the first in which women participated). Two women competed against men in equestrian events, [11] the croquet competition was mixed-sex, [12] and Hélène de Pourtalès was the sole female sailor, achieving the Olympics′ first mixed-sex team champion as part of the gold-medal-winning Swiss team. [13] The sole time Olympic motorboating was held (1908), Sophia Gorham took part in a mixed British team. [14]

Mixed doubles tennis was first contested in 1900 but fell off the programme after 1924 before being reintroduced in 2012. [15] Mixed doubles badminton was introduced in 1996. [16]

Pair figure skating was present at the summer games in 1908 and 1920 before continuing as a founding event at the first Winter Olympic Games. [17] Ice dancing expanded the mixed figure skating programme in 1976. [18]

Sailing at the Summer Olympics was mostly mixed-sex up to 1988 but grew increasingly divided, with no mixed sailing events being held in 2012. [19] Similarly, shooting at the Summer Olympics continued on a mixed basis in several events from 1968 to 1992, before competitors were restricted by sex. [20]

There was an increased focus on mixed-sex competition at the start of the 21st century, with new introductions including mixed biathlon relay, team figure skating, and luge mixed team relay in 2014, then mixed doubles curling and mixed team alpine skiing in 2018. Mixed team shooting events and table tennis mixed doubles are set for inauguration at the 2020 Summer Olympics. [21] [22] Mixed-sex relay events are also slated for the 2020 athletics and swimming programmes. These changes resulted from an International Olympic Committee initiative to increase women's participation towards parity with men's – the recasting of men's events as mixed-sex ones was a part of this initiative. [23]

See also


  1. Penalty was being thrown from the cliffs of Mount Typaion!

Related Research Articles

Relay race team sport in athletics, swimming, etc

A relay race is a racing competition where members of a team take turns completing parts of racecourse or performing a certain action. Relay races take the form of professional races and amateur games. Relay races are common in running, orienteering, swimming, cross-country skiing, biathlon, or ice skating. In the Olympic Games, there are several types of relay races that are part of track and field. Relay race, also called Relay, a track-and-field sport consisting of a set number of stages (legs), usually four, each leg run by a different member of a team. The runner finishing one leg is usually required to pass on a baton to the next runner while both are running in a marked exchange zone. In most relays, team members cover equal distances: Olympic events for both men and women are the 400-metre and 1,600-metre relays. Some non-Olympic relays are held at distances of 800 m, 3,200 m, and 6,000 m. In the less frequently run medley relays, however, the athletes cover different distances in a prescribed order—as in a sprint medley of 200, 200, 400, 800 metres or a distance medley of 1,200, 400, 800, 1,600 metres

Sex verification in sports

Sex verification in sports occurs because eligibility of athletes to compete is restricted whenever sporting events are limited to a single sex, which is generally the case, as well as when events are limited to mixed-sex teams of defined composition. Practice has varied tremendously over time, across borders and by competitive level. Issues have arisen multiple times in the Olympic games and other high-profile sporting competitions, for example allegations that certain male athletes attempted to compete as women or that certain female athletes had intersex conditions that gave unfair advantage.

International Triathlon Union International triathlon governing body

The International Triathlon Union (ITU) is the international governing body for the multi-sport disciplines of triathlon, duathlon, aquathlon and other nonstandard variations. The ITU host the top level international race series the ITU World Triathlon Series and the ITU Triathlon World Cup. More recently, the ITU created a long-distance race circuit with official world championships. Long Distance Triathlon races are closer in length to Ironman Triathlon races owned and organized by the World Triathlon Corporation.

Mixed doubles term referring to mixed double events in various types of sport

Mixed doubles or mixed pairs is a form of mixed-sex sports that consists of teams of one man and one woman. This variation of competition is prominent in curling and racket sports, such as tennis, table tennis and badminton, as well as gymnastics, figure skating and card games such as contract bridge.

ITU World Triathlon Series world championship series in the sport of triathlon

The ITU World Triathlon Series is the International Triathlon Union's annual series of triathlon events used to crown an annual world champion. There are multiple rounds of competitions culminating in a Grand Final race. Athletes compete head-to-head for points in these races that will determine the overall ITU world champion. The elite championship races are held over two distances the standard and the sprint distance.

The ITU Triathlon Mixed Relay World Championships, is an annual team triathlon competition organized by the International Triathlon Union (ITU). The competition is completed in teams of four, two men and two women, with each member doing a super-sprint distance triathlon.

South Korea at the 2018 Winter Olympics

South Korea competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, from 9 to 25 February 2018, as the host nation. It was represented by 122 competitors in all 15 disciplines.

The triathlon competitions at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo will feature fifty-five athletes competing in each of the men's and women's events. It will also add the new mixed team relay event.

Great Britain at the 2016 Summer Olympics

The United Kingdom, appearing as Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and represented by the British Olympic Association (BOA), competed at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 5 to 21 August 2016 and the team of selected athletes was officially known as Team GB. British athletes have appeared in every Summer Olympic Games of the modern era, alongside Australia, France, Greece, and Switzerland, though Great Britain is the only country to have won at least one gold medal at all of them. Although the British Olympic Association is the National Olympic Committee (NOC) for Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Northern Irish athletes can choose whether to compete for Great Britain or for the Republic of Ireland, as they are entitled to citizenship of either nation under the Good Friday Agreement. In 2016 Northern Ireland born representatives in Team GB included returning rowers Alan Campbell, Peter Chambers and Richard Chambers, archer Patrick Huston and four members of the men's field hockey team: David Ames, Mark Gleghorne, Iain Lewers and Ian Sloan. The team also represents, and included representation from, the Crown dependencies, among which were Guernsey's Heather Watson and Carl Hester, and from the ten of the thirteen British Overseas Territories represented by the BOA rather than their own NOC, whose representatives include Turks and Caicos-born sprinter Delano Williams and Anguillan-born long jumper Shara Proctor

Wheelchair tennis at the 2016 Summer Paralympics

Wheelchair tennis events at the 2016 Summer Paralympics were held between 8–16 September at Olympic Tennis Centre, Rio. This was the seventh full Paralympic wheelchair tennis competition since the event was introduced in 1992, having been a demonstration event in 1988.

Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics

Canada competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, from February 9 to 25, 2018. It was the nation's 23rd appearance at the Winter Olympics, having competed at every Games since their inception in 1924. Canada competed in all sports disciplines, except Nordic combined. The chef de mission was Isabelle Charest, who was appointed in February 2017.

United States at the 2018 Winter Olympics

The United States of America competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, from February 9 to 25, 2018.

Germany at the 2018 Winter Olympics

Germany competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, from 9 to 25 February 2018, with 153 competitors in 14 sports. They won 31 medals in total, 14 gold, 10 silver and 7 bronze, ranking second in the medal table after Norway at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Germany excelled in ice track events, biathlon, Nordic combined and Ski jumping. The men's ice hockey team took a silver medal, having lost a closely contested final to Olympic Athletes from Russia.

Canada at the 2018 Commonwealth Games

Canada competed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia from April 4 to April 15, 2018. It was Canada's 21st appearance at the Commonwealth Games, having competed at every Games since their inception in 1930.

Participation of women in the Olympics

The rate of participation of women in the Olympics has been increasing since their first participation in 1900. Some sports are uniquely for women, others are contested by both sexes, while some older sports remain for men only. Studies of media coverage of the Olympics consistently show differences in the ways in which women and men are described and the ways in which their performances are discussed. The representation of women on the International Olympic Committee has run well behind the rate of female participation, and it continues to miss its target of a 20% minimum presence of women on their committee.

Austria at the 2018 Winter Olympics

Austria competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, from 9 to 25 February 2018, with 105 competitors in 12 sports. They won 14 medals in total: five gold, three silver and six bronze; ranking 10th in the medal table.

Poland at the 2018 Winter Olympics

Poland competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, from 9 to 25 February 2018. It was the nation's 23rd appearance at the Winter Olympics, having competed at every Games since their inception in 1924. The Polish team consisted of 62 athletes in 12 sports, which is the largest ever Polish team, surpassing the 59 athletes that competed in 2014. Polish ski jumpers won one gold and one bronze medal, earning the 20th place at the medal table.

China at the 2018 Winter Olympics

China competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, from 9 to 25 February 2018. China competed in 12 sports, participating in bobsleigh, skeleton and ski jumping for the first time. Liu Jiayu won a silver medal in Women's halfpipe, the first ever medal in snowboarding for China. Gao Tingyu won a bronze medal in the Men's 500m speed skating event and became the first male speed skater from China to win a medal in Olympic speed skating. Wu Dajing won a gold medal in the Men's 500 m short track speed skating event and became the first male short track speed skater from China to win a gold medal in Olympic short track speed skating. He also broke the world record. With Beijing being the host of the 2022 Winter Olympics, a Chinese segment was performed at the closing ceremony. Those 2022 Winter Olympics will make Beijing the first city to host both a Winter and Summer Olympics, after they hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics. China won 9 medals in total.

Netherlands at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics

The Netherlands participated at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, Argentina from 6 October to 18 October 2018.


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