The London 2012 Olympic Games ended on Sunday evening with an homage to British music and culture and was heralded as a success by IOC chief, Jacques Rogge. The London Olympics gave sports fans two weeks of spectacular performances from female and male athletes from across the globe. Heavily favored athletes like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt cemented their places in history while South Africa’s Oscar Pistorous became the first ever double amputee to compete in a non-paralympic event.
But it was the women of the world who not only won medals but bridged cultural and political gaps for their respective nations. 204 countries competed, over 10,000 Olympians participated, and the entire world came together to watch a global field of females raise their Olympic games to new heights.
Here are our picks for the top female moments at the London 2012 Olympic Games:
Christine Sinclair Scores Hat-trick
The Canadian women’s soccer team had no greater hero than Christine Sinclair when the Canadians took on Team USA. Already one of the most powerful and highest scoring female soccer players in history, Sinclair led the charge against Team USA in the semifinals with three goals.
Sinclair was so dominant that she forced Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, and Hope Solo and the entire US team to raise their games. Although Canada lost to the US in extra time, Sinclair was the star of the game and an overnight national hero.
USA Swim Team Breaks Records, Wins Gold Cache
Led by 17-year old phenom, Missy Franklin, the American women dominated the swimming pool, broke a slew of world records, and found Olympic redemption for such veteran swimmers as Dana Vollmer and Rebecca Soni. Team USA won a total of fifteen medals, broke five word records, and seven Olympic records.
Young guns like Franklin, Katie Ledecky, and even the 22-year old Alison Schmidt are now focused on Rio 2016 as they follow in the footsteps of such greats as Janet Evans and Natalie Coughlin.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce Repeats as Fastest Woman Alive
Although all Olympic running eyes were on Usain Bolt, the women of Jamaica also found success in London. Like Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce ran to golden glory in the 100m for the second consecutive Olympics.
Pryce also took part in the Women’s 200m dash and the 4×100 relay in which she helped Jamaica win silver in both. At 25, Pryce could be the favorite again going into Rio 2016.
Allyson Felix wins 3 Gold Medals
USA runner Allyson Felix made up for her disappointing second place finish in the 200m dash in Beijing 2008 with a gold medal victory in London. Not only that but Felix played a golden role in the Women’s 4×400 relay and the 4×100 relay in which she and her three teammates smashed the world record by almost an entire second in a blazing time of 40.82 seconds.
Brazil’s Volleyball Team Cements Legacy
The Brazilian Women’s Volleyball team won a second consecutive gold medal with top notch play in the zone combined with blocking, digging, and spiking so hard that team USA could win more than one set. The women’s team could make history if they can win their third straight gold medal on home soil at Rio 2016.
Jessica Ennis is Greatest Female All Around Olympian
After missing the Beijing Olympics in 2008 due to injury, Great Britain’s Jessica Ennis was part of the gold medal victories on the first day of competition. Ennis won the Heptathlon in stunning fashion. With the crowd behind her and no other competitor even close, Jessica Ennis proved that she was the best All-Around female athlete at London 2012.
Misty May Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings Win 3rd Straight Gold Medal
The gold medal match in Women’s Beach Volleyball featured an All-American duel between Misty May Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings against April Ross and Jennifer Kessy. The final wasn’t even close as Misty and Kerri put on a dominant show for the London crowd. When Ross and Kessy hit their serve long, Kerri fell to her knees and screamed as Misty pumped her fists to win their third consecutive Olympic gold medal.
Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani Makes History
Saudi Arabia’s first female Olympian, Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani, received a standing ovation for her participation in Women’s Judo. Although she lost in 82 seconds, the soft-spoken 17-year old will long be remembered for making history as Saudi Arabia’s first female Olympian along with the first female Olympic athletes from Brunei and Qatar. With the world as her stage, Shahrkhani was a memorable darling of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Gemma Gibbons Inspires
Although there were many heart-warming performances during the London Olympics, it was Judo competitor Gemma Gibbons of Great Britain who brought the world to tears when she fell to her knees, looked up to the heavens, and spoke “I love you Mom” after winning her semi-final match. It was an homage to her mother who had passed away eight years earlier.
Although Gibbons went on to win a silver medal, it was a moment that Brits and the world won’t soon forget.
Team USA’s ‘Fierce Five’ Win Gymnastics Gold
Led by 16-year old Gabby Douglas, the USA women’s gymnastics team went into London with high expectations. Team USA delivered an emphatic performance by winning the team competition with an incredible 5-point lead over Russia. Along with Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber and Kyla Ross were nearly flawless in all their routines.
Although Douglas and Raisman went on to win individual gold medals, it was the teary-eyed five faces atop of the podium that will forever serve as a reminder of how young and truly dominant the Fierce Five were in London.
Katie Taylor Wins Boxing Gold
Women’s Boxing made its debut at the London 2012 Olympic Games and quickly made for a few inspiring moments. Although Claressa Shields and Nicola Adams also won gold for the USA and Great Britain respectively, it was Ireland’s Katie Taylor who fought her way to a golden moment by winning her first gold medal in the Lightweight division.
Taylor inspired her nation with dazzling and effective punches and a fluidity in her footwork that was nearly flawless and when the match was over, the Irish-heavy crowd went wild.