The First Female Gold Medalists, Week 16: Water Polo & Rio Games Preview

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

This week, we head to our last Olympic Games in London. 2012 was a huge year for Team USA Women, marking the first time there were more female participants than male. We also take a look at those on Team USA competing in two of the three brand new sports to this years Games.



Women’s water polo has been on the Olympic program since 2000 and the U.S. women had been on every podium, but never in the gold-medal position. A long-time water polo power, Team USA finally stood atop the podium at the London 2012 Olympic Games behind a five-goal effort by Maggie Steffens in the gold-medal game to beat Spain, 8-5. After London, the U.S. women went on to become the first women’s team ever to hold the current Olympic, world championship, world cup and World League titles.


2016, RIO – GOLF & RUGBY

The 2016 Games in Rio will feature two new sports for women, both of which Team USA is sending competitors. While both sports have a history of being in the Olympics, it’s been a very long time for both. Let’s take a look at who will be competing for the USA as these long-absent sports make their Olympic return.

Golf – The US will have three women competing in golf, which is making its reappearance after over 100 years. Men competed in the 1900 Games in Paris and the 1904 Games in St. Louis, while women only competed in the 1900 Paris Games. As we learned in Week 1 of this series, American Margaret Abbott was the first winner, even though the IOC didn’t decide until after her death that her results were part of Olympic competition.

Americans Lexi Thompson, Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller will compete in the Rio Games. According to many new sources, all three are threats to medal. The women will compete August 17-20, with the medals being awarded on the 20th.

Since many of the top male golfers have opted out of playing in Rio, citing health issues as the excuse, there is chatter that golf may be deleted from the roster after the 2020 Games. The IOC will vote soon to possibly replace it by bringing back the ever popular softball sport.

Rugby – Rio marks the debut of Rugby Sevens at the Olympics, though Rugby Union was last played in the 1924 Games in Paris. Based on points accumulated over the past two seasons of Women’s Sevens Series circuit, Team USA is a 6 seed and part of Pool A with Australia, Fiji and Colombia. While Australia is a favorite to win the pool, the US team has some young player to watch who will give the Aussies a run for their money.

2016 marks the first time women will be competing in any form of rugby at the Olympics. The American men won gold at the 1920 Antwerp and 1924 Paris Games. Women’s pool play begins on August 6th with the medal matches taking place on August 8th.