Handy charts on women in the Olympics

Completely loving these charts at Mother Jones of just how incredible the US lady Olympians are. Check ‘em all out here. 

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  • http://feministing.com/members/amale/ a male

    I believe that the disparity in medal count for the USA for its population size, is a problem, not something about which to boast. The even more extreme disparity when looking at American female athletes, winning more medals on their own than 200 entire nations, highlights the problem even more severely. If people of the world had equal opportunity to excel at sports, women in particular, the Olympic medal count would be almost equally distributed according to population, e.g. China would be in the lead, with about four times as many as the US, and India would be next, with about three times as many as the US. The US would have approximately 5% of all medals.

    Yes, women in the US who are able to benefit from Title X, or to have national training facilities, or who are able to train with some of the finest coaches in the entire world, and the means to pursue sports instead of flipping burgers for college money, or instead of working in fields alongside their parents for enough to eat, or not living in refugee camps, probably have more opportunity to excel in sports than others. If the women’s gymnastics team had been born in Saudi Arabia or any other country without access to coaches the caliber of the Karolyis, they would not be the kind of champions they are.

    Michael Phelps believes he is the swimmer he is because of his coach Bob Bowman, who has trained him since he was 11. He has changed schools, and moved numerous times to be with him. He says, “Training with Bob is the smartest thing I’ve ever done … I’m not going to swim for anyone else.” If Michael Phelps were Irish (like his name) instead of American, without access to Bowman, he probably wouldn’t be such an epic swimmer. He might not have been a champion at all, as the Irish swimming program has its issues.

    I have read how some other nations’ Olympians train alone, at home. That may suffice for some runners, even barefoot on unpaved roads, or while dodging sniper fire in a war zone in the winter; but not for gymnasts or swimmers. There are weightlifters who lift weights made of rebar and concrete blocks, as they or their teams can’t buy what I see at my local Sears. Years ago, I personally met and spoke to some national champions who competitively speaking, are nobodies – truck drivers from India who happened to work at the same government office; a PE teacher and some guy he met, from the Maldives, who happened to win a competition held one day at a local hotel for foreigners. There were national teams who did not even have copies of the international rulebooks. These people were competing against professional athletes from real national programs, and the locals of the host country had the gall to be critical or laugh at their performance.

    US Olympians are champions. They deserve to be recognized as champions, even if they don’t win medals like those which dominate the news. Every champion I’ve ever heard interviewed credits their coaches and training. Other athletes who don’t have the same opportunities, and quite frankly, have no chance because of where or how they were born, deserve recognition as well.