Monday, July 16, 2012

Carrying the Torch: Female Representation at the 2012 Olympics

I posted the following at The New Agenda this morning:

It’s that time again! The Summer Olympics in London will begin later this month. For the first time in history, more women will represent the United States in the Olympic Games than men. The US team was announced on July 10th, and the 530 member team includes 269 women and 261 men:
“It speaks to Title IX,” Teresa Edwards, the U.S. Olympic team chef de mission and five-time medalist in basketball, told USA TODAY Sports. “It’s evident where we’ve come from especially with women in sports. I’m very proud of that — not so proud that I want to make the men jealous because a lot of men play a role in where we are now — but I’m proud to know that we’ve come this far.” 
USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said the greater number of female athletes is “a true testament to the impact of Title IX, which in its 40-year history has increased sport opportunities for millions of females across the United States.”
It is fitting that the same year that Title IX celebrates its fortieth anniversary, many of the women who received the opportunity to participate in athletics because of the legislation will now get to represent their country, and female representation will more than equal that of male athletes.
Four years ago, there were 24 more men than women that competed for America in the Summer Games.  There are some notable differences and changes that have occurred that have contributed to this flip. On the men’s side, while they participated in 2008, the men’s soccer team did not qualify the Olympics this year which contributed to the comparative difference in male and female athletes. However, on the women’s side, this year marks the first time that women will compete in boxing as a medal sport.  Olympic women’s boxing has drawn attention already, even before the first punch has been thrown.  Late last Fall into the Winter, it was heavily debated whether or not the female boxers would be required to wear skirts during the Olympics. It was decided in mid February that women would be allowed to wear skirts or shorts when they competed, although individual countries may have their own requirements.  Additionally, Queen Underwood, considered America’s best hope for a gold in women’s boxing, has been highlighted for her courage in aiming to turn her hurtful past of being raped by her father as a child into Olympic victories. 
This year’s games also marks the first time that every country represented at the games will have women competing. On July 12th, Saudi Arabia agreed to allow two women to compete. One woman, Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani, will compete in judo and Sarah Attar will compete in the 800m run. However, these athletes will be required to compete in Sharia compliant clothing and be accompanied by a male guardian at all times. The nations of Qatar and Brunei Darussalem will also be sending women to the Games for the first time.  Qatar’s Bahiya Al-Hamad, who is competing in shooting, will be carrying the flag for her nation at the Opening Ceremonies.
You can read the rest here

 As a note, I mention later in the post that the women's professional soccer league collapsed this year. The Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) league did collapse, but there is another professional league that is still in action of which I was unaware- the W-League of the United Soccer League. I also mention an Olympic weightlifter who had yet to receive sufficient sponsorship to help her maintain her rigorous training schedule. It was announced just this afternoon that she received sponsorship from SOLVE media.

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