Level playing fields?

Obvious differences in physical strength and power preclude women from competing head-to-head with men in numerous sports from boxing and weightlifting to football, rugby, cricket, athletics, martial arts, cycling, tennis, swimming and rowing. In other sports, physical differences are less important, or wholly unimportant, and women either compete or have competed on equal terms.

Obvious differences in physical strength and power preclude women from competing head-to-head with men in numerous sports from boxing and weightlifting to football, rugby, cricket, athletics, martial arts, cycling, tennis, swimming and rowing. In other sports, physical differences are less important, or wholly unimportant, and women either compete or have competed on equal terms.

EQUESTRIANISM: The best example of integrated sport. Men and women compete on equal terms to the highest level in show jumping, three-day eventing, dressage, endurance and driving disciplines. Britain's Pippa Funnell is among the best in the world.

SAILING: In solo ocean-racing, men and women compete on equal terms, as Ellen MacArthur, below, did in the Vendée Globe and Emma Richards did in the recent Around Alone. Until 1984, when Britain's Cathy Foster won a place at the Olympics in the 470 dinghy class, Olympic sailing events were open. From 1988 onwards, it was deemed that women needed separate classes because strength and weight can be telling factors.

MOTOR RACING: No rules and no physical reasons prevent women racing against men. In the 1920s, the unlikely figure of Barbara Cartland was promoting ladies' races at Broadlands. Today, while several female drivers race in the US, not one does so in Formula 1. In 1975, the Italian Lella Lombardi became the only woman to score points in an F1 race - the Spanish Grand Prix. In the late Seventies, Britain's Divina Galica raced in qualifying races for F1 but she failed to make the grid.

HORSE RACING: Alex Greaves is the only woman to have ridden a winner in Britain at the top level (Group 1) which she did aboard Ya Malak in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York in 1997. Other current British women riders, a rarity, include Kim Tinkler and Joanna Badger.

SNOOKER: Kelly Fisher, the women's world champion and women's world No1, plays on the men's Challenge Tour, which is the level below the main tour that includes the likes of Ronnie O'Sullivan. No rules stop women competing against men. Fisher, above, is ranked No 197 in the world overall.

BOWLS: Ken Woodcock, of the English Bowling Association, says: "There is no reason whatsoever why men and women can't compete on equal terms." At club level, men and women often compete against each other but at international level events are split. Woodcock says this is more for historic reasons than anything else.

DARTS: No rules stop women competing head-to-head with men and they do so regularly at club level. Women have their own major events (dominated in recent years by Britain's Trina Gulliver) but although some have played in qualifiers for men's events, none has made the main draw.

SHOOTING: Margaret Thompson Murdoch, an American, became the first woman to win an Olympic medal in open competition when competing in 1976 at Montreal in the small-bore rifle event. However, most events at Olympic level are now segregated, mainly as more women now shoot (which justifies separate events, say organisers).

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