The First Female Gold Medalists, Week 7: Gymnastics & Coxed Eight, Rowing

Excerpts taken from Team USA’s article dated March 24, 2016. 

This week, we stay in Los Angeles, where the American women continued to dominate on home soil. Here, we have another first: before 1984, no American gymnast – male or female – had won gold.

1984, Los Angeles – Gymnastics – Mary Lou Retton

Before 1984, no American gymnast – male or female – had ever won Olympic gold. It wasn’t until Retton burst onto the scene in Los Angeles that that streak was broken, as Retton took gold in the individual all-around after earning a perfect 10 on vault, the final event, to put her in front by .05 points. She went on to win four additional medals: silver in the team event and on vault, and bronzes on the uneven bars and floor exercise. She was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1997. Retton was the only American to win gold in the all-around until Carly Patterson and Paul Hamm in 2004.


1984, Los Angeles – Coxed Eight, Rowing – Team U.S.A.

On the first day of rowing finals at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games, Romanian crews had won five straight women’s events before the coxed eight final took place. The U.S. women’s eight came from behind in the final race of the day to defeat the Romanians by a second, avoiding the sweep and securing the first Olympic gold medal for women’s rowers. It stood as the only one for over 20 years, until U.S. women’s eight crews won back-to-back golds in 2008 and 2012.