|all photos public domain
As the 2012 Olympics came to a close I thought about how much I am going to miss these games and these Olympians, especially the women who represented the U.S.A.
They won 29 of the team’s 46 golds. To put that in perspective: If the U.S. women were their own nation, they would be tied for third in the gold medal count with Great Britain.
Women who are high school students, mothers, and wives, took medals in track, swimming, soccer, boxing, water polo, swimming, beach volleyball, tennis, artistic gymnastics, pole vault, judo, and skeet shooting.
These Olympians are chingonas of the highest degree. They train for most of their life, just for the opportunity and honor to represent their country.
I call them chingonas because they fulfill the top 3 attributes defined by Sandra Cisneros in a presentation she gave at a conference:
1. Live for your own approval.
2 .Discover your own powers. What floods you with joy?
3 .Find true humility and practice it.
U.S. swimmer Missy Franklin won the most golds of any woman in these Games — four — and added one bronze. This 17 year old, almost Senior in high school has decided not to turn pro and to forgo endorsement deals potentially worth millions to continue swimming for her high school and at the collegiate level.
“For right now, I still believe that college is what’s going to make me the happiest girl,” Franklin said at a U.S. Olympic Committee news conference.
Forty years after the passage of Title IX, a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, there is plenty of reason to celebrate. For the first time this year, women outnumbered men on the U.S. Olympic team.
“Does it give me an extra smile?” said Brenda Villa whose water polo team won the gold. “It does.”
Ms. Villa, 32 years old, grew up in Commerce, Calif. Villa participated in city sponsored programs where children didn’t have to pay to play sports..
That opportunity made all the difference to the three-time Olympic water polo medalist who has won three Olympic medals (two silver and a bronze) and has just completed her fourth Olympic Games, with a gold medal.
As a co-founder of Project 20-20, she has paid it forward. This program provides swimming and water polo lessons to low-income people of the Bay area, where she served as a tutor during her days at Stanford University.
Middleweight boxer, Claressa Shields and Fly weight, Marlen Esparza won the gold and bronze medals.
Seventeen year old Claressa became the first woman and the only American boxer to win a gold medal. In a USA news interview she credits her grandmother:
“My Grammy always said that girls can do the same thing as men. She said that I couldn’t do just everything, but she said up in sports, I should be looked at as just equal, so I should always do my best.”
Marlen graduated high school as class president with a 4.6 GPA. She was accepted at Rice University and the University of Texas but put college plans on hold while she pursued boxing. She plans to call it quits on that career after the Olympics and attend medical school.
Although closing ceremonies have just completed, I may not have to wait long to see these women again. I’m sure they’ll be on every major morning show throughout the week, hopefully inspiring another generation of women athletes.
Congratulations to all of the women who achieved greatness by their tireless training, their team spirit, and belief in themselves. They are Gold Medal Chingonas.