Sunday, August 12, 2012

161: The Self-Empowered Woman: 2012 Olympic Females

Dear Followers,

Claressa Shields
Ibtihaj Muhammad

Marlen Esparza
Since this year is the 40th anniversary of Title IX (the 1972 law that increased opportunities for women in sports in America), we all have a great deal to be thankful for. That's why I thought, as the 2012 Olympics come to a close, we should revisit some of the record-breaking events that deserve a moment of celebration.  Here a few  thought-provoking bullets:
  • Women won two-thirds of the U.S. team's gold medals, and over 50% of the overall medals
  • U.S. women won  29 gold and 58 total medals
  • Female athletes competed in 23 events at the London Olympics, but from 1896 until 1924 there were no women competitors at the Olympics
  • This was the first time ever that American women athletes  outnumbered their male counterparts at the Olympics (269 to 261)
  • Kayla Harrison won the first U.S. medal ever in judo
  • This year was the first time that women's boxing was included at the games; American teenager Claressa Shields won gold, and Marlen Esparza (whose career win percentage is higher than Muhammad Ali or Mike Tyson) won bronze
  • Ibtihaj Muhammad (a 25 year old Muslim fencer) from Maplewood, New Jersey, competed while wearing a hijab (head scarf), as did Saudi runner Sarah Attar - the first time hijabs were seen at Olympic competition
  • Skeet shooter Kim Rhode became the first American to win a medal in five consecutive Olympic games
  • The women's  basketball team won its fifth straight gold medal
  • Both women's volleyball and soccer teams won their third straight gold medal (Athens, Beijing, London)
  • Serena Williams won two gold medals in tennis; she and her sister won Olympic doubles gold for the third time
  • As of yesterday, American women had won 26 gold medals (almost 25% of the total amount of gold won by women in London)
  • Swimmers Missy Franklin, Allison Schmitt and (15 year old) Katie Ledecky all brought home gold medals
  • Sanya Richards-Ross and Allyson Felix won five golds between them in women's track
  • This was the first Olympics ever where every country had a female representative; 45% of the 10,800 athletes were women
 I could go on like this for hours, but I think you get the idea. We have quite a few remarkable female athletes doing their best to bring home medals for the U.S.A.  There is a lot for all of us to be proud of (and grateful about), athletically and otherwise.

This seems like an appropriate time to pay homage to former Olympian Ann Curtis, who died one month before London's opening ceremonies.  She was considered one of the world's greatest groundbreaking swimmers; she won two gold medals at London's 1948 Olympics and 34 U.S. championships.  She was so gifted that she broke five world as well as 56 American swimming records, and could compete from the shortest championship distance (100 yards) to the longest (1500 meters).

After the 1948 Summer Olympics, she married her college sweetheart, and together they opened a swimming school in San Rafael, CA, which she managed into her seventies.  She was 86 years old when she died from complications of Alzheimer's disease.

Looking forward to your comments...

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