So it’s the morning after the night before. The torch is out, the athletes are heading home and Londoners are reclaiming their air of cynicism and stiff upper lip after the stirring montages that have left us all blubbing. However London 2012 was a fantastic achievement, not only for the individual success of the athletes (including Team GB’s massive 65 medals haul), but for women in sport, putting their contribution on the map in what has vastly been a man’s world over the last 100 years.
So here’s a quick recap of all the firsts that happened this year at London 2012:
London 2012 was the first Olympic Games to have every country’s team include female competitors with Qatar, Saudia Arabia and Brunei bringing female athletes to the world stage for the first time.
Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani was the first ever woman to compete for Saudi Arabia at the Olympics. This was a hugely significant achievement after her country decreed several months ago it would not to give into ‘western’ and IOC pressure to include women in it’s team. However just before the Games there was a sudden turn around as Saudi Arabia announced it would send two women. Shaherkani took to the stage on 3rd August to compete in the 78kg+ Judo at the ExCel Centre, whilst Sarah Attar became the first ever female to represent Saudi Arabia on the track, running her 800m heat in 2mins 44 and setting a national record.
Habiba Ghribi became the first Tunisian woman to win an Olympic medal, winning silver in the women’s 3000m Steeplechase and breaking her national record.
Shenjie Qieyang became the first Tibetan athlete to compete in China’s squad, winning bronze in the women’s 20km race walk. Although this raises a lot of questions about how far China’s ownership of Tibet has now gone, it was a historic moment non the less to see a Tibetan woman on the world stage.
Sixteen year old Gabrielle Douglas (or the Flying Squirrel as she became known) became the first ever African-American to win a gold in the all-round artistic gymnastics. Two years ago Douglas left her family and moved to Iowa on her own to be trained by her idol Shawn Johnson’s coach Liang Chow, showing dedication and commitment to her career far beyond her fourteen years .
And within Team GB:
London 2012 became the first Olympics to feature women’s boxing, a sport that until 1996 was banned in the UK. With Fly, Light and Middle weight classes Natasha Jones, Nicola Adams and Savannah Marshall all made their débuts at the Games and will go down in the history books as the first Team GB women to ever compete in boxing at the Olympics. Adams furthered this achievement by winning Gold in the Flyweight, making her the first Team GB woman to ever win a boxing gold.
Helen Glover and Heather Stanning not only kicked off Team GB’s gold-rush by winning the first gold medal of the games, but also became the first British women to ever win a rowing gold. Storming to victory in the Women’s Pairs, they lead the way for Team GB’s other female rowers, with Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins claiming Gold in the Double Sculls and Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hosking taking first place on the podium in the Lightweight Double Sculls.
Team GB also gained its first Gold Medal in both Team and Individual dressage. Although dressage is a mixed sport, it was the two female members of the team, under the eye and tutelage of the fantastic Carl Hester, who made a name for themselves and put GB firmly on the equestrian map. Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro notched up the top GB score for both the Team and Individual, winning gold in both events and Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral not only contributed to Team GB’s Team win, but also wowed the judges enough to gain bronze in the Individual event.
Jade Jones not only became the first Team GB woman to win an Olympic Gold Medal in Taekwondo, but became the first Team GB athlete ever to win Gold in the sport. The teenager, nicknamed ‘The Headhunter’ thanks to her penchant for booting her opponent in the head, won after defeating Hou Yuzhuo of China 6-4 in the Under – 57kg final.
Beth Tweddle also made Olympic history by becoming the first woman to win an Olympic medal in individual gymnastics, taking home a bronze in her last ever Games.
I’m out of firsts for now, but if anyone knows of any please send them through! To be continued….