Olympic Women Showed Us How It’s Done

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The delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics officially belonged to women athletes in pretty much every metric imaginable. Women made up 49% of all athletes at the Games (making it the first gender equal Olympics in history), women brought home 58% of the medals on Team USA and overall set 10 new world records.

Women also dominated the Olympic conversation. According to data from Facebook, the top five most talked about U.S. athletes on the platform were women: Simone Biles, Suni Lee, Tamyra Mensah-Stock, Athing Mu, and Jade Carey. 

The 2020 Olympics made one thing extremely clear: Women’s sports can’t be ignored.

Perhaps more important than any world record or gold medal, the women athletes at the Tokyo Games helped set a new tone for elite sports—one that prioritizes mental health and well-being, emphasizes camaraderie, and reminds us all that, even at the Olympic level, we are more than just our biggest accomplishment.

Here are all the ways women made history in Tokyo.

1. Women flag bearers at the Opening Ceremony

Before the competition even officially started, women set a new tone for the Olympics 2020. For the first time ever, nearly every country had a woman carrying their flag, in a move explicitly designed to promote gender equality.

2. Simone Biles

When Simone Biles—greatest gymnast of all time—withdrew from the all-around team finals just moments after the competition began, it was one of the most shocking moments in Olympic history. Her decision to step back from the biggest stage was rooted in the need to “prioritize her mental health”—something that felt revolutionary for not just elite athletes but women in general. (She later revealed she was dealing with a case of “the twisties.”)

After serving as the world’s most epic cheerleader for her teammates, who collectively brought home two golds and two silvers, Biles came back to the competition floor for the individual beam finals where she won bronze—her seventh Olympic medal. “I did it for me,” she said, proving that she is, in every way, the GOAT.

3. Allyson Felix 

At her fifth Olympics, Allyson Felix officially solidified her own GOAT status. With a bronze in the 400-meter dash and a gold in the 4x400-meter relay, she became the most decorated U.S. Olympic track and field athlete in history. “I just came out really at peace and wanting to soak it all in,” she said, per ESPN

Her medals aren’t the only Olympic legacy she’ll leave. Felix has been a vocal advocate for moms in sports and has spoken out to raise awareness of the Black maternal mortality crisis. Ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, she and Athleta announced they’d be issuing childcare grants to help Olympic moms achieve their dreams. 

4. Nelly Korda

Nelly Korda took home gold in the women’s individual golf event in Tokyo. But her victory was even bigger than the medal. Korda’s win made sports history as it made her the first golfer—of any gender—to win a major tournament (she won the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in June) and an Olympic gold in the same year. 

5. Carli Lloyd

Tokyo was full of upsets—one of the biggest being the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team’s loss to Canada, knocking them out of the running for the gold medal. (In case you need a refresher, the USWNT won the 2019 World Cup—while fighting an incredibly public battle for equal pay—and was favored to take the top spot on the podium in Tokyo.)

The women ultimately won the bronze, and forward Carli Lloyd, one of the most iconic players in history and the oldest player on the team, scored her 10th Olympic goal, making her the highest USWNT goal scorer in history.

6. Lilly King

Swimmer Lilly King won two silver medals and a bronze in Tokyo—all huge accomplishments despite their not being gold, as she reminded the world. “Pardon my French, but the fact that we’re not able to celebrate silver and bronze is bullshit,” she said.

7. Laurel Hubbard and Quinn

Weight lifter Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand made sports history when she became the first out transgender woman to compete in the Olympics—a huge step for gender inclusivity in sports. Meanwhile on Team Canada, soccer player Quinn became the first trans and nonbinary athlete to win an Olympic medal when the Canadian team took home women’s soccer gold.

8. Nevin Harrison

The Tokyo games included a deliberate push for gender equality through the addition of several events that had previously only been open to men. The 200-meter canoe sprint was one of them, and 19-year-old Nevin Harrison became the first woman in history to claim the gold. “It’s exciting to be part of history, to see how awesome we all were,” Harrison said, per ESPN. “I knew it was going to be the hardest race of my life. It’s the Olympics, and that’s what it's all about.”

9. Sydney McLaughlin

In the 400-meter women’s hurdles, Sydney McLaughlin and Delilah Muhammed both broke the standing world record—but it was McLaughlin who crossed the finish line first by a razor thin 0.12 seconds. “Iron sharpens iron,” McLaughlin said of her relationship with Muhammed.

10. Carissa Moore

Surfing made its Olympic debut this year, and four-time world champion Carissa Moore became the first woman to bring home gold. “Getting to share the sport with so many people that maybe have never even watched surfing before was super special, and I felt that,” she said, per The Washington Post.

11. Momiji Nishiya and Sakura Yosozumi

Skateboarding also made its Olympic debut, and the slogan may as well have been “Girls rule.” In both the women’s street and park events, teens swept the podium, with Japan’s 13-year-old Momiji Nishiya and 19-year-old Sakura Yosozumi taking home the first gold medals and proving anything boys can do, girls can do faster.

12. Katie Ledecky

Katie Ledecky, the most dominant woman in swimming ever, absolutely crushed it in Tokyo. She officially broke the record for most individual gold medals in women’s swimming history (six) and became the first woman to win Olympic gold in the 1,500-meter freestyle. It’s the first time women have been allowed to compete in the marathon of a race in Olympic history, and a major move for gender equality in sports.

13. Jessica Parratto and Delaney Schnell

Divers Jessica Parratto and Delaney Schnell became the first American women to medal in the women’s synchronized 10-meter platform with a near flawless dive that earned them a silver medal.

14. The German women’s gymnastics team

For decades women in gymnastics have competed in bikini-cut leotards. But in Tokyo—the first Olympics since a global reckoning with the culture of abuse in the sport—the German gymnastics team competed in full-body unitards to make a statement against “sexualization” in the sport. “It’s about what feels comfortable. We wanted to show that every woman, everybody, should decide what to wear,” said German gymnast Elisabeth Seitz, per CNN.

15. Elaine Thompson-Herah

There’s a new GOAT in town. Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson-Herah officially became the fastest woman alive when she took the gold in the 100-meter sprint in 10.61 seconds. Not only did she beat out teammate Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price (who had claimed the title of fastest woman alive in the Olympic qualifiers), she became the fastest woman ever, beating the record previously set 33 years ago by Florence Griffith Joyner.

16. The U.S. women’s basketball team

One word: dynasty. The women of Team USA Basketball brought home their seventh consecutive gold medal at the Tokyo Games in a win over Japan, making them one of the most dominant teams in Olympic history. The win marked the fifth gold medal for legends Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi. 

17. Tamyra Mensah-Stock

Tamyra Mensah-Stock became the first Black woman to win wrestling gold for the U.S., beating Nigeria’s Blessing Oborududu (who became the first person to win a wrestling medal for her country). “I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, look at us representing,’” Mensah-Stock said, per the Associated Press. “It’s so freaking awesome. You’re making history, I’m making history. We’re making history.”

18. Peruth Chemutai

Ugandan Pertuth Chemati won gold in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, becoming the first woman from her country to win an Olympic gold medal.

19. Penny Oleksiak

Swimmer Penny Oleksiak became Canada’s most decorated Olympian—of any gender—after winning her seventh Olympic medal in Tokyo. After her win, she called out a high school teacher who told her to stop swimming because it “wouldn’t get [her] anywhere.”

20. Jasmine Camacho-Quinn

With a victory in the 100-meter hurdles, Jasmine Camacho-Quinn became the first athlete to win gold for Puerto Rico in track and field.

21. Suni Lee

Suni Lee, the first Hmong American Olympic gymnast, kept the U.S.’s gold-medal streak alive when she won the individual all-around final. (Rebeca Andrade took silver to win Brazil’s first-ever Olympic medal in women’s gymnastics)

22. Hidilyn Diaz

Weight lifter Hidilyn Diaz became the first person from the Philippines to win an Olympic gold medal while also setting a new Olympic record.

23. Isabell Werth

Isabell Werth, 52, made Olympic history in 2016 when she became the most decorated equestrian in the history of the Olympic games. In Tokyo she topped it, bringing home her 12th Olympic medal.

24. Black Ferns

New Zealand’s rugby sevens team the Black Ferns won the first Olympic gold medal in rugby for their country.

25. Maggie Steffens

Maggie Steffens became the all-time leading scorer in Olympic water polo history when she scored her 48th career goal in a match against Russia.

26. Tatijana Schoenmaker

South African swimmer Tatijana Schoenmaker broke the world record for the 200-meter breaststroke and clinched the Olympic gold. After the buzzer, Schoenmaker’s competitors piled into her lane for a group hug celebrating the historic moment.

27. U.S. 3x3 Women’s Basketball Team

Fast-paced 3-on-3 basketball (they play to 21 points or 10 minutes, whichever happens quicker) made its Olympic debut in Tokyo, and the U.S. women brought home the first-ever gold. “It is incredible,” player Stefanie Dolson said, per NPR. “Basketball runs deep in the USA, and to pull this off and win gold is incredible.”

28. Aleksandra Miroslaw

Some of the most jaw-dropping Olympic history was made in just 6.84 seconds when Poland's Aleksandra Miroslaw set a new world record in speed climbing, a new addition to the Games this year. 

29. U.S. Women’s Volleyball Team

The women of Team USA Volleyball brought home their first-ever gold medal. 

Want more? Get ready for the amazing athletes picking up the torch next at the Paralympic Games starting August 24 and follow all of Glamour’s coverage here.

Originally Appeared on Glamour