We knew, going in, that the London Olympics would be the first to feature female athletes from every participating country. We knew that there were more women than men on both the US Olympic team and at the Olympics overall. But Thursday, with gold medal matches in both women’s football and water polo, and the first ever gold medals awarded in women’s boxing, seemed even more special for women’s sports (particularly if you happen to be a fan of the US). The 1918 Hartlepool Expansion Ladies Football Team* up there would no doubt approve.
* Photo via The Public Domain Project, who have a great post of old team photos.
By now, you are no doubt aware that the US Women avenged last year’s World Cup Final loss to Japan, winning 2-1 in a packed Wembley Stadium. Though it is the US’s third straight Olympic gold, many of their opponents in this year’s tournament played them extremely tough, with Japan not only backing up their surprising World Cup run, but Canada making an emphatic statement ahead of hosting the 2015 World Cup. Here’s hoping the growth in talent and popularity finally leads to a sustainable professional league in the US.
Japan can take solace in the fact that they are dominating the women’s wrestling tournament, winning three of the four weights contested. Saori Yoshida, above, has now won gold at every Olympics since women’s wrestling became a sport — and the 12th international level championship of her career. (And yes, that’s Canada’s Tonya Verbeek, who won the silver.)
This is Katie Taylor of Ireland, the official first ever gold medalist in women’s boxing. The US also had a boxing gold medalist (its first boxing medal of any kind in these games), Claressa Shields, who is only seventeen years old. Claressa is from Flint, Michigan, so she’s gotten saddled with the same “hope of a battered city” weight that’s followed every Michigan team from the Tigers to the Spartans, but she acquitted herself admirably.
The US women continued their banner day of a pretty amazing Olympics this far (51 of the US’s 87 medals, and 25 of their golds so far, have been won by women) by winning their first ever medal in water polo. This weekend we will likely see the indoor volleyball and basketball teams contending for gold as well. As our own Maggie put it on Facebook earlier today “Title IX, you kind of rock.”