With women accounting for nearly 66% of America’s gold medals this Olympics—not to mention 56% of US medals overall—London 2012 represents something of a golden age in women’s athletics, reports the Los Angeles Times. Their best previous showing was 43% of golds, back in 2000, a big jump from the 30% they won in 1972, but still well behind this year’s results. “To be able to say I’m a strong, confident young woman and an Olympic champion is amazing,” says Kayla Harrison, who’s taking home a gold medal in judo. “And I hope we have a million little girls who are inspired right now.”
Women make up 44% of the 11,000 athletes competing in this year’s Games, and this is the first Olympiad with every country sending at least one woman. “I think it is very symbolically important,” says IOC President Jacques Rogge. Many observers credit gender-equality laws for putting women’s athletics on more even footing with men’s. “I think that Title IX really gave us a head start because of the national commitment to make sure that young women are getting the opportunity to be involved in sports,” says the chief executive of the US Olympic Committee.