The Year of the Women

The Year of the WomenOn the 40th anniversary of Title IX, female U.S. Olympians demonstrated in powerful and unmistakable terms how equal access to resources and equal opportunities to compete can pay off on the podium. For the first time women outnumbered men on the U.S. Olympic team, and their 29 gold medals in London accounted for two thirds of those won by the U.S. Brian Cazeneuve, Sarah Kwak, Grant Wahl, Melissa Segura, Phil Taylor, Chris Mannix, Kelli Anderson and L. Jon Wertheim look at the distinct characteristics the American women showed us—in performances ranging from the uplifting to the downright dominant—over the course of two historic weeks in London.

Gymnastics Team – FiercenessOozing flair, grace and poise, the Fierce Five led from the first rotation of the team finals and won the first Olympic team title for U.S. gymnasts since 1996 (by Brian Cazeneuve).

Kim Rhode, shooting – LongevityRhode became the first American to win an individual medal in five straight Olympic games with her gold in skeet shooting (by Sarah Kwak).

Claressa Shields, boxing – Focus After the American men struggled in their London matches, Claressa Shields showed maturity beyond her 17 years, blocking out distractions during the games, winning middleweight gold and staving off the first shutout of U.S. boxing at an Olympics (by Chris Mannix).

Swim Team – Unity – If there was a defining characteristic of the women’s swim team in London, it was a spirit of sororal fun and connection, fostered in part by Teri McKeever, the U.S. women’s first-ever female head coach (by Kelli Anderson).

Serena Williams, tennis – Dominance On her way to gold in London, Williams swept aside the three players most recently ranked No.1, perhaps the most impressive showing of her career (by L. Jon Wertheim).

Women’s Soccer Team – ResilienceThe U.S. team proved its mettle in an epic Olympic semifinal win over Canada, in which Magan Rapinoe keyed the comeback by scoring two goals. (by Grant Wahl).

Brenda Villa, water polo – Persistence After her three previous trips to the Olympics ended with silver (twice) and bronze, Villa finally stood atop the medal stand in London (by Melissa Segura).

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings, Beach Volleyball – Wisdom The dynamic duo knew everything there was to know about becoming an Olympic champion, and there wasn’t a situation on the sand that they hadn’t seen (by Phil Taylor).

Women’s Basketball Team – ConsistencyThe U.S. women’s hoops team’s winning legacy has been gold or bust for the past 16 years (by Kelli Anderson).  


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