Now that is REAL girl power: From Jessica Ennis to Nicola Adams, the Olympic medal-winning women who will inspire a generation
14:35 GMT, 13 August 2012
From Lizzie Armitstead winning Team GB's first medal of the London Olympics to Samantha Murray taking the last, British women have risen to the occasion on every day of the 2012 games.
Of Team GB's impressive 65 medals, 26 of them were won by women with 12 gold medals, eight silver, and six bronze (while women like Laura Robson and Zara Phillips also contributed to other medals when part of a team with men).
Rowers Helen Glover and Heather Stanning started the gold rush and more first place finishes followed, including heptathlete Jessica Ennis, cyclist Laura Trott and boxer Nicola Adams.
First and last Team GB medal winners: Silver medallists Lizzie Armitstead in road cycling, left, and Samantha Murray in the modern pentathlon ensured women were successful at London 2012 from start to finish
Women kick off the gold rush: Rowers Helen Glover, left, and Heather Stanning won Team GB's first gold of the games in the women's pair
'Inspire a generation' was one of the themes of London 2012 and it's hoped these sporting heroines can now encourage more girls to follow in their footsteps.
Currently according to the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF), a charity that campaigns to make physical activity an everyday part of life for women and girls, more than 80 per cent of women are not active enough to stay healthy while young women leave school half as active as young men.
Inspiration: Laura Trott, right, idolised Victoria Pendleton, left, when she was growing up and has now emulated her success taking two golds while Pendleton added to her Olympic collection with another gold and silver
World record: From left, Dani King, Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell took gold and achieved a world record time in the women's team pursuit track cycling
The reasons why women don't take part in sport include lack of time while others say they are too embarrassed to be seen getting hot and sweaty. Others would rather be thin than fit. As some sections of the media often sell a skinny look as ideal, looking toned and muscular is often perceived as being butch and unfeminine.
Sue Tibballs, chief exec of WSFF told Stylist:
'There’s a real difference in attitude between girls and boys; being
sporty is seen as a positive thing for boys whereas girls are raised to
think it is more important to be thin than fit.'
Such was the misconception over ideal body shape that in the build up to London 2012, super-toned Ennis had to defend herself against accusations that she was 'fat'.
Transforming body image ideals: Gold medallist Jessica Ennis' abs have been voted the most desirable in Britain
Toned and proud: Anna Watkins, right, who won gold in the double sculls with Katherine Grainger, says she's no longer afraid to show off her muscly shoulders
Tibballs said her organisation has been working hard to 'try to shift the agenda so that it’s positive for women to be seen as fit and strong.' Thanks to our 2012 female Olympians, this is starting to happen.
After Ennis' gold-medal winning performance, women are now clamouring to look more like her as last week it was revealed the 26-year-old’s abs were voted the most desirable in Britain.
Anna Watkins, who won gold with Katherine Grainger in the double sculls, has banished her own body image demons thanks to the games and hopes to inspire other women to do the same.
She told The Guardian that she used to feel self-conscious of her muscly shoulders but now feels she can be proud, rather than ashamed, of her athletic physique.
She said: 'I've got quite muscly shoulders and I wouldn't normally wear a vest-top, but now I feel proud to show them.'
Making history: Nicola Adams was the first female Olympic boxing champ after women were allowed to take part in the sport for the first time in the games this year
Real girl power: Gemma Gibbons, left, won silver in the judo while Jade Jones, right, took gold in taekwondo
She added that she hopes other girls can now learn that it is possible to be sporty and beautiful. She said of her female rowing team-mates: 'For us, the female ideal is athletic. We want to make our bodies look as strong and capable as possible.'
Teenager Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who competed in the heptathlon in London 2012 where she came 15th, agreed saying she hopes the efforts of female Olympians can show girls they should aspire for more than being a reality TV star or model.
Double celebration: Charlotte Dujardin won gold in the individual and team dressage competition
Showing girls that hard work pays off: Rebecca Adlington said she gave her all to win two bronze medals in the pools
'We're used to seeing girls on The Only Way Is Essex or Geordie Shore but now a lot of
people have been seeing what women can do, in a positive way, with
sport,' she said.
It's hoped the female Olympians can encourage women to become more active and competitive in all fields of sport from team games like hockey to fighting in the boxing ring.
Nicola Adams, who made history by becoming the first female boxer to win a gold medal at the Olympics said: 'I'm really hoping
it brings more women into sport, even if not boxing. I was inspired by
Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard and to think kids in the future have a
female role model to look up to is really great.'
Ruling the waves: Hannah Mills, left, and Saskia Clark took silver medals in the sailing
Team spirit: GB's women hockey players took bronze medals
Delight: Sophie Hosking, left, and Katherine Copeland celebrate winning gold in the final of the lightweight women's double sculls
Cyclist Laura Trott, who took two gold medals in the velodrome is evidence this can work. She was inspired growing up by Victoria Pendleton – who has proved that cycling can be glamorous as well as gruelling. She won another gold and silver medal at the London Olympics while her protege took two golds.
Laura said: 'If I can inspire anyone like Victoria inspired me I think that would be amazing and I just want somebody to want to follow in my footsteps as well.'