Olympics 2012: News On Women

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Swimming, beach volleyball, gymnastics oh my! As the first week of the London 2012 Summer Olympics comes to an end, we are sporting our own rings… dark ones under our eyes from the consecutive late nights of watching the Games, but loving every minute of it. We’ve been captivated and thoroughly entertained, feeling like the athletes are our friends, as we get to know them by sharing their joy of victory and devastating defeats. With this year’s Games marking many firsts for women, we rounded up some of the latest news on women coming out of the games this past week… the good, the bad and the ugly.

First African-American Woman to Win Gymnastics All-Around Gold
Gabby Douglas, the sixteen-year-old U.S. gymnast, aka “the flying squirrel”, flew into history on Thursday night as the first African-American woman to earn the gymnastics all-around gold medal.  Gabby is also the first U.S. gymnast to win both a team and individual gold at the Olympics, definitely one for the record books! – ABC News

Saudi Woman is Allowed to Fight wearing Hijab
Female judo fighter Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani from Saudi Arabia, has been allowed to compete wearing a Hijab after a compromise was reached with officials. The Judo officials previously said they would not let her compete in a headscarf because it was against the principles of the sport and raised safety concerns. – Associated Press

Women Disqualified from Badminton
Eight badminton players were disqualified from the women’s doubles competition after being accused of “not using one’s best efforts to win.” Two pairs from South Korea and one each from China and Indonesia were accused of wanting to lose in an attempt to manipulate the round-robin format, which would lead to an easier match-up in following round. Since the disqualification, Chinese player, Yu Yang, quit the sport, putting her racquet down for good. – BBC

Chinese Swimmer Sets Record…Leads to Doping Questions
16-year-old Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen swam the 400 medley 5-seconds ahead of her personal best, with the last 50 meters faster than champion Ryan Lochte, who won the equivalent men’s event in the second-best time in history. Her success had been called “disturbing” and has raised suspicions about possible doping. Ye Shiwen denied the  charge telling the China News Service: “My results come from hard work and training and I would never use any banned drugs.” British Olympics Chief, Colin Moynihan, defended the swimmer saying that she deserves recognition for her talent. – Reuters

Kazakhstan Wrestler Sets Record
Maiya Maneza has won Kazakhstan’s second weightlifting gold medal in London setting an Olympic record in the women’s 63-kilogram category. – Associated Press

Judo Fighter Earns First U.S. Judo Gold
Kayla Harrison made Olympic history in London, becoming the first American to ever win a gold medal in judo. Harrison, who has publicly talked about being sexually abused by her previous coach, has achieved a lifelong dream and when it was all finished she said, “This just proves that you’re only a victim if you allow yourself to be.”- Washington Post

Pregnant Athlete Competes
This year the Games feature what is likely the most pregnant athlete to compete in an Olympics. Even though she didn’t advance to the shooting finals, Nur Suryani Mohd Taibi has accomplished many firsts… at nearly eight months pregnant. She is the first woman to represent Malaysia in Olympic shooting, is a first time Olympian and first time almost mother. – Telegraph

Teenage Swimmer Marks a First for Lithuania
Fifteen-year-old Ruta Meilutyte won Lithuania’s first ever Olympic gold beating American Rebecca Soni in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke. She broke the European record and swam the fourth fastest time in history in the semi-finals. – BBC

American Swimmer Breaks a Butterfly Record
Dana Vollmer earned a gold medal and smashed a world record in the 100-meter butterfly race. Vollmer was diagnosed as a teenager with two life-threatening heart conditions that prompted her mom to carry a defibrillator to her races. The heart problems were fixed, but over the years Vollmer had to battle many injuries. Asked, “How does it feel?” she choked out: “It’s cool.” – NPR

U.S. Skeet Shooter Wins 5 in a Row
Kim Rhode became the first American athlete to win five medals in an individual event in five consecutive Olympic Games. She won a gold medal in women’s skeet, setting an Olympic record and tying the world record. She also became the first woman to win three gold medals in Olympic shooting. – New York Times

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