Women’s cycle racing pioneer Eileen Gray – a member of the first ever Women’s International Team, ex-president of the British Cycling Federation and founder of the Women’s Cycling Association – died on Wednesday, aged 95.
Eileen was born in Dulwich and began cycling in the midst of World War II, riding her bike between bomb holes and rubble. Once the war was over she and two other women formed the first ever Women’s International Team.
The team raced – and won – in Copenhagen in 1946, and Eileen went on to form the Women’s Cycling Association, pushing for the UCI to recognise women’s records and racing.
Mrs Gray continued to work in cycling, becoming the president of the British Cycling Federation in 1976 – the same federation now known as British Cycling.
A top rider… key to women’s racing becoming part of the Olympics from 1984.
Listed in the British Cycling Hall of Fame in 2010 – Eileen is referred to as: “A top rider… key to women’s racing becoming part of the Olympics from 1984.”
Eileen’s achievements were also recognised with an MBE and CBE for services to cycling, and having attended 16 Olmpic Games in her life, she had the honour of being one of the olderst torchbearers at the 2012 Games, then aged 92.
Eileen never stopped working hard – she was involved in the restoration of Herne Hill Velodrome, prior to the 1948 Games, and was Mayor of Kingston Upon Thames between 1990 and 1991, also taking the role of president of Sport Kingston and chairing the London Youth Games for over 30 years.
I think the girls should get stuck in like I used to when I wanted something.
An inspiration to all women who want to see equality in cycling, she was vocal when the Prudential Ride London had only men’s teams coming through the Royal Borough, telling the Surrey Comet: “I think the girls should get stuck in like I used to when I wanted something. If you want something these days you have to fight for it.”
Last year, we listed Eileen as one of the most inspirational women in cycling – take a look at the full list here.