A 40-year timeline of memorable moments

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Danica Patrick takes
checkered flag in Japan

Torch Tracker

Women's BMX is added to the Olympics.

Three years into her IndyCar career, in her 50th start, media darling and pretty decent driver Danica Patrick (left) finally silenced her doubters. Her win on April 21 in the Japan Indy 300 was, after all, the first by a woman in open-wheel history. Afterward, she called it "a long time coming." The next year, Patrick, whom people often forget was IndyCar's rookie of the year in 2005, finished third in the Indianapolis 500, the highest finish ever for a woman.

Female ski jumpers sue Olympics

When the organizers said there would again be no women's ski jumping in the 2010 Winter Games, the aggrieved athletes, who'd been lobbying for inclusion since 1998, made their outrage clear. Fifteen jumpers sued, and demanded either a competition for women or the elimination of the men's event. They lost their fight on legal grounds but, to be fair, the sport didn't fit all the criteria for acceptance at the time; there were no recognized world championships. The furor, though, wasn't for naught: Women ski jumpers will make their Olympic debut in 2014.

Dara Torres defies age

On her way to Beijing, Dara Torres had a point to make. "The water doesn't know how old you are," she said, which was a good thing, since it would have otherwise discovered that she was 41. But that number didn't stop her from qualifying for her fifth Summer Olympics and becoming the oldest woman ever to swim at the Games. Nor did it deny her a more important total: Torres' three silvers in China gave her 12 medals in her career, tying her with Jenny Thompson for the most ever by a female swimmer.

Yelena Isinbayeva vaults to the top

She is, quite simply, the best. And Yelena Isinbayeva proved it again in Beijing. The Russian pole vaulter won her second straight Olympic gold medal in China with a world-record launch of 5.5 meters. That was the 24th time the 26-year-old had set a world record, after previously becoming the first woman to clear 5 meters in 2005.

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh keep on striking

Do you like dominance? Then you must love Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh. The beach volleyball duo arrived in Beijing in the midst of a 101-match winning streak, then held serve on the world's biggest stage to capture a second straight gold medal. The streak would end at 112 shortly after the Summer Olympics, but the two -- now in their 12th year together -- will head to London this summer in search of more hardware.

U.S. doubles up in gymnastics

In charging to the silver medal in the team competition at the Summer Olympics, it was clear that the U.S. was top-heavy with Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson. That fact became undeniable after the individual all-around event, in which Liukin won the gold and Johnson snagged the silver. The friends were separated by just six-tenths of a point and became the first Americans to finish 1-2 in Olympic gymnastics.

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