The Women Of Team USA Are Already Breaking Records — And The Olympics Haven't Even Started Yet

It's never too late to be a champion.

When the 2016 Summer Olympics kick off in Rio de Janeiro next month, the female athletes of the United States will already have a win under their collective belt.

According to the U.S. Olympic Committee, the 555-member Team USA will be composed of 263 men and a whopping 292 women — the most female competitors ever to represent a single country in the history of the Olympic Games.

The tally overtakes a record set by China during the Summer Olympics in Beijing in 2008. Then, 289 women performed or played their respective sports for the country.

What's more, this isn't even the first time the United States has sent more women to the international competition. According to the Associated Press, at the London Games in 2012, Team USA became the first nation to ever send more women to the quadrennial gathering than men: 269 to 261, respectively.

It shouldn't be a surprise that Americans will be cheering on more female athletes as they hit the pool, mount a balance beam or sprint across the field in Rio. Women have been making their mark in extreme, summer, and winter-themed sports for years. They are starting to see more lucrative benefits for participating in sports, such as million-dollar contracts, and are rising to the top of typically male-dominated, sports-related institutions. There are even growing campaigns pushing for equal pay to their male counterparts — especially when they bring in more fans, wins, and bucks.

But the challenges still remain, as some fans don't consider women's sports "real sports," and sexist commentary is only a tweet away.

Still, this tally from Team USA makes a strong statement in the country's support behind female athletes — especially given that this is the second time the U.S. will be represented by more women than men. That could mean we'll see even more gold than the 29 individual and team medals scored in 2012, and perhaps a broader acceptance of women in sports at home.

Meet some of the young women who will be competing for Team USA in gymnastics this summer:

Cover image: Sports Illustrated