Skip to content

As Title IX turns 41, nine notable US female Olympic athletes

Jun 23, 2013, 12:14 PM EDT

Greatest-female-soccer-player-in-history-mia-hamm-featured

Call it a double. June 23 is Olympic Day and the 41st anniversary of the passage of Title IX. Here, to commemorate, are nine female Olympians who made an impact in their sport.

  • One of the greatest female athletes of all time, Jackie Joyner-Kersee left a lasting impression on the sport of track and field with her six Olympic medals in heptathlon and long jump. Between 1988 and 1996, Joyner-Kersee collected three golds, one silver, and two bronze medals at four straight Olympic Games. Her heptathlon score from the 1988 Seoul Games still stands as the women’s world record.
  • On the track, Florence Griffith Joyner’s speed won her five Olympic medals, but it was the sprinter’s style that captured the attention of the American public. Flo-Jo, who won three golds and two silvers at the 1984 and 1988 Games, still holds world records in the 100m and 200m.
  • In her fourth and final Olympic appearance at the 1994 Lillehammer Games, speed skater Bonnie Blair became the first American woman with five gold medals, capitalizing on the two-year gap between Olympics due to the change in the Winter Games cycle. Blair, who collected three Olympic titles in the 500m, is still the only American to win the same individual event at three consecutive Olympic Winter Games.
  • The Williams sisters’ dominance in the sport of tennis is felt on every level of competition, including the Olympics, where they have had unmatched success. Venus and Serena have each won a singles title at the Games — Serena most recently in London — but they are unstoppable as a doubles team, going 15-0 at three Olympics on their way to three gold medals.
  • The U.S. has almost always been a basketball powerhouse at the Games, and Lisa Leslie was one of the sport’s stalwarts from 1996-2008, when the women’s team won four straight golds. She closed out her Olympic career with 488 points, the most of any American — male or female — at the Games.
  • Beach volleyball duo Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor pocketed three Olympic gold medals from 2004 to 2012. Their relentless pursuit of perfection led to a 21-0 record at the Games, with only one dropped set ever in Olympic competition.
  • The most decorated American gymnast of all time, Shannon Miller grabbed two silver and three bronze medals at the 1992 Barcelona Games, but it was her contributions to the team at the 1996 Atlanta Games that are most memorable. Her balance beam performance, for which she won an individual gold, also helped the U.S. win its first women’s individual all-around title at the Olympics.
  • Quite possibly the most well-known women’s soccer player ever, Mia Hamm (pictured above) was also one of the best. She scored 158 international goals over 275 games, which stood as an all-time record until Abby Wambach surpassed her last week. She made her final Olympic appearance at the 2004 Athens Games, where she won her second gold and third overall medal.
  • Defenseman Angela Ruggiero saw the women’s ice hockey tournament through its first four Olympics, winning a medal at each Games, including a gold in Nagano, where the event made its debut. Though she retired in 2011, she remains involved in the Games by serving as a member of the International Olympic Committee.
Latest Posts
  1. Watch trailers for ‘Touch the Wall’ about Missy Franklin

    Oct 21, 2014, 12:28 PM EDT

    Missy Franklin

    Film documenting Missy Franklin’s lead-up to London debuts next month.

  2. Miracle on Ice fantasy camp set for Lake Placid

    Oct 21, 2014, 11:10 AM EDT

    Miracle on Ice camp

    Eight members of 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team will conduct spring event.

  3. Daron Rahlves, four-time Olympian, in lightsuit skiing video

    Oct 21, 2014, 10:44 AM EDT

    Daron Rahlves

    Red Bull video shows skiers in LED lights at night in Alaska.

  4. Boxer attacks referee at European Youth Championships (video)

    Oct 21, 2014, 9:46 AM EDT

    Boxing gloves Getty Images

    Vido Loncar banned for life by Croatian boxing federation.

  5. Norway Olympic Committee president to step down

    Oct 21, 2014, 9:04 AM EDT

    Borre Rognlien Getty Images

    Borre Rognlien’s move unrelated to Oslo’s failed bid and threats, according to reports.

  6. Oscar Pistorius barred from Rio Paralympics

    Oct 21, 2014, 5:37 AM EDT

    Oscar Pistorius Getty Images

    Pistorius would not be allowed to run, even if he is out of jail and under correctional supervision.

  7. Oscar Pistorius sentenced to maximum 5 years in prison

    Oct 21, 2014, 5:18 AM EDT

    Oscar Pistorius Getty Images

    Pistorius could serve less than one year in prison.

  8. The jump for the ages: Mike Powell, Bob Beamon and a revered world record

    Oct 20, 2014, 2:52 PM EDT

    Mike Powell Getty Images

    A look back at the greatest head-to-head duel in track and field history.

  9. Bill Demong to run New York City Marathon

    Oct 20, 2014, 1:18 PM EDT

    Bill Demong Getty Images

    Olympic champion hasn’t retired from Nordic combined, either.

  10. Bangalore half marathon leaders get lost, forced to take train

    Oct 20, 2014, 11:06 AM EDT

    Bangalore Marathon Getty Images

    “Morning joggers helped us and also guided us to the nearest metro station.”

  11. Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale have Olympic 100m final speed, Liverpool manager says

    Oct 20, 2014, 10:54 AM EDT

    Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale Getty Images

    How fast would they have to traverse the Bernabeu to have Olympic 100m final speed?

  12. Lindsey Vonn still struggles with depression

    Oct 20, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT

    Lindsey Vonn Getty Images

    Olympic downhill champion told German magazine she has good days and bad days.

  13. Apolo Ohno on Ironman: A milestone among my 8 Olympic medals

    Oct 20, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Apolo Ohno AP

    Ohno said he went into “full warrior mode” in Hawaii.

  14. Beijing Marathon run through smog (video, photos)

    Oct 20, 2014, 8:54 AM EDT

    ATHLETICS-CHN-MARATHON-BEIJING Getty Images

    U.S. Embassy scale had air pollution level at “hazardous.”

  15. IOC wants ‘full explanation’ from Russian about ‘Williams brothers’ comments

    Oct 20, 2014, 8:37 AM EDT

    Shamil Tarpischev Getty Images

    Shamil Tarpischev, Russian tennis president, is also a longtime IOC member.

  16. Aksel Lund Svindal injured playing soccer, likely out most of season

    Oct 19, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    Aksel Lund Svindal Getty Images

    How top Americans, Austrian going for history will be affected this World Cup season.

  17. Shaun White brings Air & Style event to Rose Bowl

    Oct 17, 2014, 2:50 PM EDT

    Shaun White Getty Images

    Two-time Olympic halfpipe champion won’t be competing, though.

  18. Michelle Kwan, Sarah Hughes opine on skating to lyrics

    Oct 17, 2014, 10:54 AM EDT

    Michelle Kwan Getty Images

    Top U.S. skaters are incorporating new rule into their programs this season.