The 1996 Olympics in Atlanta were huge for Team USA’s women. That’s why we’re getting another Olympic Flashback from that year, and it’s courtesy of the US Women’s National Soccer Team.
In 1991 the International Olympic Committee ruled that women’s soccer would be included in the games for the first time in 1996. The inaugural tournament included eight teams: the USA, China, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Brazil, Japan and Germany. Team USA was stacked with legends like Brandi Chastain, Joy Fawcett, Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm and Briana Scurry. And they did not disappoint. In the finals, team USA faced powerhouse China. In front of a record-breaking 76,481 fans, team USA gave spectators every bit of the sports drama they came to see. Team USA went up 1-0 early in the first half, but let China tie the game in the 32nd minute. Tiffeny Milbrett, with help from Hamm and Fawcett, would clinch victory when she scored with about 22 minutes left in the game. Hamm, who had been battling an ankle injury throughout the week, had to be carted off the field in the last moments of the game. Being down a key player; however, would make no difference in the outcome. Team USA took home the first ever gold medal in women’s soccer with a 2-0 victory over China.
Take a look at their victory below:
Despite drawing tens of thousands of people to each game, none of the women’s games were aired in live-TV format. The team’s performances, however, proved that women’s soccer was a force to be reckoned with, stimulating a significant growth in the sport in the US. Since their appearance in 1996, the USWNT has continued to dominate on the international stage; winning 2 more World Cups (since the win in 1991) and 4 Olympic gold medals. Unfortunately, their success on the field has yet to translate into equitable salaries. But just as the women’s tireless efforts on the fields have secured epic victories, their efforts in the judicial system will undoubtedly prove successful for their pockets. Make sure you tune in this year to see their legacy continue in Rio!