It’s certainly not news that women are amazing, but new statistics to come out of the Tokyo Olympics have once again solidified that fact. After the close of the Games on Sunday, August 8, it’s been calculated that of the 113 medals won by Team USA, nearly 60 percent of them (58.4 to be exact) were earned by female athletes. According to reports from USA Today and NBC, USA men took home 41 medals while women took home 66 — the most that Team USA women have ever won.
People magazine perhaps put it best: If the women competing for team USA “decided to form their own country, their medal haul would be among the highest in the world,” the publication reported. This achievement marks the fourth consecutive Summer Olympics in which U.S. women have earned more medals than U.S. men. It’s also worth noting that Tokyo was the third consecutive Games in which there were more women than men on the U.S. team.
“What an awesome testament to the hard work of these incredible athletes and to those strong women who paved the way before them,” U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland told USA TODAY Sports. “We are so proud.”
Women also commanded the Olympic conversation. According to data from Facebook, the top five most talked about U.S. athletes on the 2021 team were gymnast Simone Biles, gymnast Suni Lee, wrestler Tamyra Mensah-Stock, runner Athing Mu, and gymnast Jade Carey. Women made history in Tokyo, too. For example, Katie Ledecky became first woman swimmer to earn six individual gold medals over the course of her career while Carissa Moore became the first woman ever to win a gold medal in surfing at the Olympics.
“I think it was awesome. I think the women showed up,” track and field star Allyson Felix, who is the the most decorated woman in Olympic track and field history, told PEOPLE after winning her record-breaking 11th medal on Saturday. “I think we’ve been showing up on the track [and] off the track in all of the ways,” Felix said. “So to me, I loved it. I love seeing it.”
Title IX, the 1972 ruling that prohibits sex-based discrimination in sports, was a huge turning point for women and the main reason why this feat was possible, USA Today notes. “As Team USA celebrates its Olympic performances, one must acknowledge how almost 50 years ago, in an effort to elevate women in our society, Title IX empowered generations of women to compete, to lead, to win and to inspire,” Olympic gold medalist Donna de Varona, a member of the USOPC board of directors, told the outlet.
Though the results of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are cause for celebration, Olympic swimmer Ledecky says that the fight isn’t over yet. “For progress to continue, we’re going to have to continue to advocate for equality for female sports,” Ledecky told USA Today, “[and] not be afraid to speak out, to pursue legal and political remedies and have a seat in corporate boardrooms, and not be timid about participating in those processes that will continue to bring change.”
Still, the 2020 Olympic Games were a powerful reminder that we can no longer underestimate the strength of women athletes.
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