American women are taking home 61 medals from Rio, with another 55 going to the men and five awarded in mixed events. Women racked up 27 gold medals for the United States. If the American women competed as their own team, they would rank third for all medals, and tie for first for total golds.
More than two dozen of the United States’ Olympic medals were won by women athletes of color.
Simone Biles became the most decorated US gymnast in a single Olympics with four golds and a bronze. Allyson Felix’s fifth and sixth Olympic gold medals, along with a silver, secured her position as the only woman from any country to achieve that level of decoration in track. Katie Ledecky broke two world records, taking home four golds and a silver at only nineteen. Simone Manuel became the first black woman to win an individual medal in swimming, and she took home four.
The US women’s basketball team broke multiple records; in addition to snagging their sixth gold medal, the American women were the first to score over 100 points three games in a row, with their game against Senegal resulting in a final score of 121 points, the most ever scored in the history of US women’s basketball.
According to NPR, American women’s streak as an athletic powerhouse began in London, when they won 48 medals to the men’s 45. Rio was also the second time that the number of American women competing—291—outnumbered the number of American men—263.
Women’s sports are being added to the Olympics every year, with wrestling in 2004, boxing in 2012 and this year’s inclusion of rugby.
American women were not always the dominant group in the Olympics. When women were first allowed to compete in 1900, the only sports open to them were golf and tennis. In the 1972 Games in Munich, US women won 23 medals compared with the 71 earned by the US men.
That same year, Congress passed Title IX, barring discrimination on the basis of sex by any education institution that received funding from the federal government. That meant that moving forward schools would have to ensure an equal number of resources went to fund sports for both men and women. While athletics was not the purpose of Title IX, it has become a huge benefit to women’s empowerment and educational opportunities, as well as their visibility and voice on the world stage.