Women have been competing in the Olympics since 1900. The number of female participants has grown with each year and today, nearly 50% of the total number of athletes are women. With the rescheduled 2021 Games around the corner, here is a look back at some greatest performances in Olympic history.
Mary Lou Retton
- This American gymnast made history at the 1984 Olympic Games, winning one gold, two silver and two bronze medals.
- Retton is known for her comeback victory in the all-around competition. She received perfect scores on the floor to win by 0.05 points.
- She became the first American woman to ever win the all-around gold medal in the Olympic Games.
- After Retton’s iconic performance, she became the first female athlete to grace the cover of a Wheaties box.
- An American swimmer who has competed in three Olympic Games: 2004, 2008 and 2012.
- She has won 12 Olympic medals: three gold, four silver and five bronze.
- In 2008, Coughlin made history, becoming the first U.S. female athlete to win six medals in one Olympics.
- In addition, Coughlin won the gold medal in the 100-meter backstroke at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games, making her the first woman to ever win the event in two different Olympic games.
- The most decorated track and field Olympian in history. She has competed in four Olympic Games and won nine medals in the 100, 200, and 400-meter races.
- Felix won a gold medal in three consecutive Olympic games: 2008, 2012 and 2016.
- She is the only female track and field athlete to win six Olympic gold medals.
- This American swimmer was a staple on the U.S. Olympic Swim Team and the first American to swim in five Olympic Games.
- Torres represented the United States at the 1988, 1992, 1994, 2000 and 2008 Olympics.
- She’s a 12-time Olympic medalist: four gold, four silver, four bronze.
- In 2008 and at age 41, Torres became the oldest swimmer to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic Swimming Team.
- With a combined total of 30 Olympic and World Championship medals, Simone Biles is the most decorated American gymnast in history and third-most in the world.
- As an original member of the “Fab Five,” Biles won five Olympic team medals: four gold and one bronze.
- Her talent and personality caught the attention of the world and she was named espnW’s Woman of the Year in 2016.
- She was also named the 2016 Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press.
- Rhode is most decorated female Olympic shooter of all time and has competed in six consecutive Olympic games beginning in 1996.
- She has won six Olympic medals: three gold, one silver and two bronze.
- In 2012, Rhode became the first American athlete, male or female, to win an Olympic medal at five consecutive games in a individual sport.
- Presently, she has her eyes set on the 2021 Olympics and will shoot for her seventh medal.
- An original member of the ‘Fab Five.”
- She is a two-time Olympian, having competed in 2012 and 2016, and a two-time Olympic team captain. She’s won six medals: three gold, two silver and one bronze.
- In 2012, she made USA gymnastics history by becoming the first U.S. woman to win a gold medal in the women’s floor exercise.
- In addition, Raisman is one of two gymnasts in USA history to win two back-to-back team gold medals.
- Ledecky made her Olympic debut in the 2012 Olympic Games at age 15.
- She is the current world record holder in the women’s 400-, 800-, and 1500-meter freestyles.
- Ledecky’s Olympic career includes six medals: five gold and one silver. She won her first gold in the 800-meter freestyle in 2012 and in 2016, added four gold medals to her collection.
- In addition, she set two world records in the 400-meter and 800-meter freestyle in 2016.
- Joyner-Kersee competed in four Olympic Games and won six medals: three gold, one silver and two bronze.
- She was the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in the long jump.
- Sports Illustrated named her the greatest female athlete of the 20th century in 1999.
- Today, she is on the Board of Directors for USA Track & Field (USATF) and is an active philanthropist in children’s education, racial equality and women’s rights.
- She is an American speed skater who competed in four Olympic games, winning won five gold medals and one bronze medal.
- Blair is the only woman that won an Olympic speed skating event at three consecutive Olympic games with victories in both the 500 meter and the 1,000 meter in 1988, 1992 and 1994.
- Blair is also tied for the second-most decorated U.S. winter Olympian of all time.