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

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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.

Galen Rupp, Meb Keflezighi lead U.S. Olympic marathon team

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Galen Rupp is the first American to make the Olympic marathon team in his debut at the distance since 1968.

Meb Keflezighi has become the oldest U.S. Olympic runner of all time, according to USA Track and Field.

The Olympic medalists Rupp, 29, and Keflezighi, 40, finished first and second in the Olympic marathon trials in Los Angeles on Saturday. Jared Ward was third and earned the final place on the Olympic team, his first.

In the women’s race, Amy CraggDesi Linden and Shalane Flanagan were the top three, all returning to the Olympics, with Flanagan collapsing at the finish line. Full recap here.

Rupp and Keflezighi broke away on their own around the 20th mile. Rupp then dropped Keflezighi in the 23rd mile and won by about 1:08, clocking 2:11:12. He broke the finishing tape with a fist pump.

Full results are here.

“It was a bit of a change running the marathon, but there’s no bigger honor than being able to represent your country at the Olympics,” Rupp told Lewis Johnson on NBC.

Rupp, the 2012 Olympic 10,000m silver medalist, and Keflezighi, the 2004 Olympic marathon silver medalist, are the only U.S. men to earn Olympic track and field medals in events longer than 1500m since 1984.

Dathan Ritzenhein, a three-time Olympian and a pre-race favorite with Keflezighi and Rupp, dropped out of the race around mile 20 of 26.2 total in the hottest U.S. Olympic marathon trials of all time. The temperature at the men’s start at 10:06 a.m. local time was 66 degrees.

The Rio Olympic marathon will be on Aug. 21, the final day of the Games.

Rupp has said he prefers the 10,000m and might not race the marathon at the Olympics. If he doesn’t, the fourth-place trials finisher, Luke Puskedra, will move onto the team.

“I think [Rupp] is a 2:05 [marathon] guy, someday,” Rupp’s coach, three-time New York City Marathon winner Alberto Salazar, told media after Saturday’s race.

Rupp could contest two races in Rio, the 10,000m (Aug. 13 final) and the marathon, or the 10,000m and the 5000m (Aug. 20). Rupp finished seventh in the 5000m in London.

“I would say that the 10k is still my primary focus,” said Rupp, who would have to make the Olympic track team at those trials in Eugene, Ore., from July 1-10, in a USATF interview published Jan. 28. “Really, it just comes down to what I think I have a better chance in as a second event, whether that’s the 5k or the marathon.”

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Amy Cragg wins marathon trials; Shalane Flanagan collapses at finish

Amy Cragg
AP
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Amy Cragg finished fourth at the 2012 Olympic marathon trials, just missing the three-woman team.

She left no doubt Saturday, winning the Rio Olympic marathon trials by 33 seconds over Desi Linden.

“Finishing fourth, looking back on it now, was so good for me,” Cragg told Lewis Johnson on NBC. “It made me more determined than ever as an athlete. I’ve worked really hard the last four years, basically, to move up one spot.”

Shalane Flanagan was third to round out the Olympic team, collapsing after she crossed the finish line and being carried into a wheelchair.

Two-time Olympian Kara Goucher finished fourth, just missing the team. She’ll have to compete at the track trials in July in Eugene, Ore., if she wants to make it to Rio.

Full results are here.

Flanagan said there was a point during the hottest marathon trials ever where she thought she was “done,” but her training partner Cragg talked her through it.

“Sweet baby Jesus, I’m so thankful for her,” Flanagan said with an ice pack over her shoulders, clutching a water bottle in her right hand and holding onto Cragg’s right shoulder with her left hand. Cragg held up Flanagan during the interview and then helped her back into the wheelchair.

Cragg, who later made the 2012 Olympic team in the 10,000m and finished 11th, led a team of returning Olympians to finish in the top three after 26.2 miles in Los Angeles on Saturday.

Linden repeated her 2012 trials finish of second place, surging in the final few miles past Flanagan. At the London Olympics, Linden pulled out 2.2 miles into the race with right hip pain, what would later be diagnosed as a femoral stress fracture.

“It’s been this Sisyphean task where I get to the top, and then the rock crumbles down,” Linden said. “I want to do it better this time.”

Flanagan, who broke from the pack with Cragg at the 12-mile mark, faded to third, still making her fourth Olympic team.

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