This Olympics was a historic one in many ways. Oscar Pistorious became the first double amputee to race in an event, Phelps became the most decorated Olympian of all time, and Usain Bolt won both the 100m and the 200m for the second consecutive time. However, a lion’s share of the Olympic glory belongs to the women. The U.S. women scored two-thirds of the gold medals for the United States. If not for the women, Team USA would have finished 5th in the overall country count and 3rd in the gold medal count.
Finally, it seems that women are becoming an unwavering and dominant member of athletics. Title IX had a large roll in making this possible; undoubtedly, U.S. women have the best resources in the world to become successful athletes. Even the media seemed to take note of all of the exceptional female athletes. Gabby Douglas was on the cover of People (as opposed to megastars Michael Phelps or Ryan Lochte), as she made history by becoming the first African-American to win the Gymnastics All-Around. Misty May Treanor and Kerri Walsh once again took the gold medal in a stunning U.S. vs. U.S. beach volleyball final. The women’s 4 x 100m in track broke a 27 year record by 1/2 a second. Many of the most watched moments of the games centered around female athletics; fans cheered on the young Missy Franklin to victory, watched the Fab Five dominate the field and watch Alyson Felix win several golds. Moreover, the U.S. was not the only country with newsworthy women. For the first time, Saudi Arabia sent a female athlete to the Olympic games, an enormous step for for the country and women’s rights in the Middle East. Ye Shiwen, a Chinese swimmer, propelled herself to a faster finishing 50m in the 400 m medley than Ryan Lochte.
The London Games will change the female sports world. Twice as many girls leave sports around the age of 14 as boys, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation. If history is any indication, this Olympics will cause a spike in girls’ interest in sports. There have been many moments when women have made sports history, each inspiring millions of girls to participate. How many young girls will dream of being Gabby Douglas or Alex Morgan? I had my own inspiring moment when I watched the U.S. women’s soccer team win the World Cup in 1999. That feat inspired me to be not just an athlete, but a great one. I knew the names of all the team members, whose faces covered the walls of my room. They drove me to strive for greatness, as I know they did for countless other girls were as well. I think this Olympics will have a similar, if not greater, effects on girls. Hopefully, we will see more women on ESPN, in commercials or on the cover of Sports Illustrated, alongside millions of aspiring female Olympians in the pool, on the track and on the field. Most importantly, these athletes are relatable, and many girls will be able to liken themselves to one of their Olympic idols. What could possibly serve as greater inspiration for young girls than seeing hard-working, driven, confident and strong women? In the coming years, we can only expect to watch women become, as the Olympic motto would suggest, ”Faster, Higher, Stronger.”
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