U.S. Olympic teams now carried by women in medal count in lasting Title IX impact

Title IX Olympics
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In the 50 years since Title IX passed, women went from having a fraction of the Olympic medal events of men to carrying Team USA, despite still having fewer medal opportunities.

The value of the U.S. women, and by extension the impact of Title IX, was clear on the last day of the Tokyo Games.

The U.S. began Aug. 8 trailing China by two gold medals in the standings. Finishing second would have been a significant defeat, given the U.S. topped the total- and gold-medal standings at every Summer Games since 1996, except when China took more golds when it hosted in 2008 in Beijing.

But the Americans had a closer: their women.

In a span of minutes on the final day, the U.S. women’s basketball team earned its seventh consecutive gold medal, as expected, and track cyclist Jennifer Valente won the omnium, which was unexpected. Then the women’s volleyball team capped it off with the program’s first gold medal.

MORE: NBC Sports celebrates 50th anniversary of Title IX

The final standings: U.S., 39 golds. China, 38 golds. (Two U.S. male boxers also had chances for gold on the last day and came away with silver medals.)

The U.S. finished the Olympics with 66 medals in women’s events, the most ever for any nation.

It won 41 medals in men’s events, the U.S. men’s fewest since the first modern Olympics in 1896, according to Olympedia.org. That stat is all the more startling given there were a record 339 medal events in Tokyo versus 43 medal events in 1896, when only men were allowed to compete.

When Title IX passed in 1972, there were no Olympic basketball or cycling events for women. There was no NCAA women’s volleyball. Title IX provided women equal opportunities in high school and college sports. It lay the foundation for Olympic success.

“The strength of Team USA in Tokyo was on the backs of of our female athletes, many of whom competed in college,” U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland said. “It is a profound thing to see the dominance of U.S. women, particularly relative to other countries around the world who may not have either the collegiate system and the education-based athletics system that we have in this country, but certainly not one that’s catering to women, the way we have through Title IX.”

Dating back farther, some of the first scholarship recipients in the Title IX era starred at the Games.

MORE: ‘In Their Court’ podcast examines evolution of Title IX through women’s basketball

UCLA’s first four-year female scholarship athlete, Ann Meyers Drysdale, was a catalyst guard for first U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team, which took silver in 1976.

Flo Hyman, a 1984 Olympic silver medalist and arguably the greatest U.S. female volleyball player ever, was the University of Houston’s first female scholarship athlete.

The 1996 Atlanta Games are largely seen as the catapult for women’s sports with many of the stars having grown up entirely in the Title IX era.

It marked the first Olympics for women’s soccer and softball (both U.S. gold medals), the first U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team title and the final Olympics for Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Janet Evans.

“There would be no Lisa Leslie without Title IX,” Lisa Leslie, a basketball standout who was born in 1972, said in the 2021 Peacock film, “The ’96 Effect.” “There would be no USA women’s team without Title IX.”

Female stars of those Games, including the Magnificent Seven gymnasts, soccer players like Mia Hamm and basketball players like Leslie became role models for the generation that has come to dominate today.

“Part of the story of the ’96 American women at the Olympics isn’t just their specific achievements, as glorious as many of them were, it’s the ripple effect that it had,” longtime NBC Olympics primetime host Bob Costas said in “The ’96 Effect.” “Broad societal changes were obviously already under way. You need sometimes big, prominent symbols to drive the point home and also to inspire people.”

If you can see it, you can be it, as Billie Jean King says.

Starting with the 1992 Barcelona Games, U.S. women won a greater percentage of available medals than the U.S. men in every Summer Olympics except 2004. Women outnumbered men on a U.S. Olympic team for the first time in 2012 and did so by greater margins in 2016 and 2021.

The last time the U.S. won more medals in men’s events than women’s events at a Summer or Winter Olympics was 2010.

“You can see the impact not just in my generation but even in the younger generation because they have the chance to play,” five-time Olympic basketball champion Sue Bird said. “We have the opportunity to play.”

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

Francesco Friedrich
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A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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2023 World Alpine Skiing Championships TV, live stream schedule

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Every race of the world Alpine skiing championships airs live on Peacock from Feb. 6-19.

France hosts the biennial worlds in Meribel and Courchevel — six women’s races, six men’s races and one mixed-gender team event.

Mikaela Shiffrin is the headliner, in the midst of her most successful season in four years with a tour-leading 11 World Cup wins in 23 starts. Shiffrin is up to 85 career World Cup victories, one shy of Ingemar Stenmark‘s record accumulated over the 1970s and ’80s.

World championships races do not count in the World Cup tally.

Shiffrin is expected to race at least four times at worlds, starting with Monday’s combined. She earned a medal in 11 of her 13 career world championships races, including each of the last 10 dating to 2015.

Shiffrin won at least one race at each of the last five world championships (nobody has gold from six different worlds). Her six total golds and 11 total medals are American records. At this edition, she can become the most decorated skier in modern world championships history from any nation.

She enters one medal shy of the record for most individual world championships medals since World War II (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt) and four medals shy of the all-time record. (Worlds were held annually in the 1930s, albeit with fewer races.)

She is also one gold medal shy of the post-World War II individual record shared by Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson.

The other favorites at these worlds include Italian Sofia Goggia, the world’s top female downhiller this season, and the two leading men: Swiss Marco Odermatt (No. 1 in super-G and giant slalom) and Norwegian Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (No. 1 in downhill).

2023 World Alpine Skiing Championships Broadcast Schedule

Date Event Time (ET) Platform
Mon., Feb. 6 Women’s Combined Super-G Run 5 a.m. Peacock
Women’s Combined Slalom Run 8:30 a.m. Peacock
Tues., Feb. 7 Men’s Combined Super-G Run 5 a.m. Peacock
Men’s Combined Slalom Run 8:30 a.m. Peacock
Wed., Feb. 8 Women’s Super-G 5:30 a.m. Peacock
Thu., Feb. 9 Men’s Super-G 5:30 a.m. Peacock
Sat., Feb. 11 Women’s Downhill 5 a.m. Peacock
Highlights 2:30 p.m.* NBC, Peacock
Sun., Feb. 12 Men’s Downhill 5 a.m Peacock
Highlights 3 p.m.* NBC, Peacock
Tue., Feb. 14 Team Parallel 6:15 a.m. Peacock
Men’s/Women’s Parallel Qualifying 11 a.m. Peacock
Wed., Feb. 15 Men’s/Women’s Parallel 6 a.m. Peacock
Thu., Feb. 16 Women’s Giant Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Women’s Giant Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Fri., Feb. 17 Men’s Giant Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Men’s Giant Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Sat., Feb. 18 Women’s Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Women’s Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Highlights 2:30 p.m.* NBC, Peacock
Sun., Feb. 19 Men’s Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Men’s Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Highlights 3 p.m.* NBC, Peacock

*Delayed broadcast
*All NBC coverage streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for TV subscribers.

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