For the second straight Olympics, women athletes outnumber men on the U.S. Olympic team, 292 to 262.
In fact, the 2016 Team USA has the most women competing for any nation in a single Olympic Games.
A tradition of top women athletes can be traced back in part to a groundbreaking piece of U.S. civil rights legislation that leveled the playing field for women in sports. In 1972, Congress passed a law known as Title IX. This law requires schools that receive federal funding to provide both sexes with equal opportunities to participate in sports, and equal access to coaches, facilities and other resources.
It sparked a revolution of women in sports. When Title IX was passed, only about one in 27 girls in the United States participated in sports in secondary school. Now, one in three are on a team of some sort.
— U.S. Olympic Team (@TeamUSA) August 5, 2016
Support for women’s participation in sports seems to have another effect. U.S. women have been outshining men on the podium: In London 2012, U.S. women athletes won a whopping 29 gold medals to 17 for men, and 58 to 45 medals overall.
The U.S. women’s soccer team has a streak of three consecutive Olympic gold medals and is looking to repeat in Rio. Midfielder Carli Lloyd, two-time gold medalist who scored Team USA’s first goal of the 2016 Games, said her Olympic career started in school.
“I wouldn’t have been playing if there was no Title IX,” she said.
Among other U.S. women to watch in Rio:
- Swimmer Katie Ledecky, an Olympic gold medalist, and nine-time world champion.
- Gymnast Simone Biles, expected to make the podium in her first Olympics along with the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, favored to win the team event.
- Basketball forward Tamika Catchings, competing in her final Olympics and seeking a fourth gold medal.
Around the world, more women are becoming leaders in sports and sports-related fields. Have you seen changes in access to sports where you are?
Follow Team USA from August 5 to 21 at #USinRio.