[REAL VERSION] London 2012

REAL VERSION

Full coverage on NBC through August 12

American Women Will Be a Summer Blockbuster

The U.S. could be celebrating the 40th anniversary of Title IX with a lot of gold

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Franklin is just one of the women about to become household names.

    In 2012, the United States celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Title IX legislation that leveled the playing field in scholastic athletics for women.   It's also the year women, including a swimmer from Aurora, Colo., take center stage for the United States in the London Olympics.

    For the first time in history, there are more women than men on the U.S. Olympic team. It would be a wonderful, if perhaps unintended consequence, if keeping the United States atop the medal count was one more outcome of Title IX's attempt to overthrow inequality.

    That alone would make for a nice story. The fact that the best candidates for the breakout star at the London Games are all women makes it even better.

    Swimmer Missy Franklin is the favorite in that category because she's swimming in six events and because she's an exceedingly charming and funny 17-year-old who's a natural in interviews. If she winds up on the podium several times, it's going to be hard for anyone to leave a bigger impression on the public than Franklin, who is from Aurora, Colo., and paid tribute to those affected by the tragedy in her hometown. 

    If not Franklin, the Women's Gymnastics team was set up for the prime spot by virtue of landing on the cover of Sports Illustrated and participating in one of the most popular events. If Jordyn Wieber and Gabby Douglas go 1-2 in the all-around, their faces are going to be ubiquitous for the rest of the summer.

    Alyson Felix might have made it into the 100 meters through a strange turn of events, but no one will remember that if she should double up on gold in the 100 and 200. She's won the silver in consecutive Games, leaving just that hole in the resume from a higher level of stardom.

    Even if they aren't the biggest names, the women of our area are well-represented. we're going to be following Lia Neal, the second African-American woman ever to make the swimming team, Rebecca Soni and Kara Lynn Joyce could very well become breakout stars in their right.

    Tobin Heath, Carli Lloyd and Christi Rampone will help the soccer team try to rebound from their 2011 World Cup loss and Queens product Sue Bird will be running the show for the basketball team.

    Skeet shooter Kim Rhode is trying to become the first American of any gender to medal as an individual in five straight Olympics and fencer Mariel Zagunis is going for her third gold medal after becoming the first fencer in a century to win one in 2000. Anna Tunnicliffe became the first American woman sailor to win a medal in two decades and will try to repeat this time around while Claressa Shields and Queen Underwood help introduce women's boxing to the Olympics.

    Holley Mangold isn't from around here and isn't a medal favorite, but the younger sister of Jets center Nick Mangold makes quite an impression with both her wit and her ability to hoist massive amounts of weight.  We could keep going for a while, but you've probably gotten the point.

    It's not that there aren't men that stand to make a big impression, it's just that Michael Phelps has already broken out and anyone else is harder to see coming from this vantage point. It's also that there are just so many impressive women about to hit our consciousness.

    London 2012 is right around the corner. Get the top Olympic news, including what to watch, results and features on our local athletes here.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.