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Hélène, Countess de Pourtalès

Full name: Hélène de Pourtalès (Barbey-)
Gender: Female
Born: April 28, 1868 in New York, New York, United States
Died: November 2, 1945 in Geneva, Genève, Switzerland
Title: Countess
Country: SUI Switzerland
Sport: Sailing

Related Olympians: Aunt of Bernard, Count de Pourtalès; Wife of Hermann, Count de Pourtalès.

Medals: 1 Gold, 1 Silver (2 Total)

Biography

On 22 May 1900 she was part of the crew of the yacht Lérina which won the first of the two regattas in the 1-2 ton class, and three days later the same crew placed second in the second race of that class. This made her the first woman to compete at the Olympics and the first female Olympic medalist.

She was born Helen Barbey, to parents Henry Barbey and Mary Lorillard Barbey – the latter from a very wealthy family, in which Pierre Lorillard had founded a tobacco empire. Her father was an affluent banker. In 1891, in the American church of Saint-Trinité in Paris, she married Hermann Alexandre, Count de Pourtalès, the son of Alexandre and Augusta Saladin, from an old Huguenot family. He was a captain in the Cuirassiers de la Garde regiment in the Prussian Army. They had three daughters. She inherited a passion for horses from her mother's side of the family (Pierre Lorillard was the first American owner to win the British Derby in 1881, with the horse Iroquois), and a love for sailing. The Lorillards were central figures in the Newport community, where America's Cup regattas were held in that era. In one of her diaries, later sold by auction, Hélène provides a vivid description of watching the 1887 America’s Cup. Hélène de Pourtalès lived in Paris and Géneve, and in 1900, she watched the Olympic golf tournament, in which her husband's cousin Jacques was a course referee. Hélène had a dual passport, Swiss and American, while her husband had dual Swiss-German nationality.

Results

Games Age City Sport Event Team NOC Rank Medal
1900 Summer 32 Paris Sailing Mixed Open Lerina SUI AC DNF
1900 Summer 32 Paris Sailing Mixed 1-2 Ton Lerina SUI 1 Gold
1900 Summer 32 Paris Sailing Mixed 1-2 Ton Lerina SUI 2 Silver

Mixed Open

Games Age City Sport Team NOC Phase Unit Date
1900 Summer 32 Paris Sailing Lerina SUI Final Standings 1900-05-20

Mixed 1-2 Ton

Games Age City Sport Team NOC Phase Unit Date AT AT H
1900 Summer 32 Paris Sailing Lerina SUI Final Standings 1900-05-22 2-15:32 1-47:10 28:22
1900 Summer 32 Paris Sailing Lerina SUI Final Standings 1900-05-25 3-35:14 3-12:49 22:25
id: 61,789