Nightly News   |  August 07, 2012

Olympians inspire girls to succeed

In a message that transcends medals, girls around the world are learning the value of a strong work ethic, and the importance of conquering adversity, as women excel at sports from archery to pole vaulting. NBC’s Chris Jansing reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> finally here tonight from london we've

>>> finally from london we've been telling our viewers since the eve of these games there would be a strong women's theme here and there is. they out number men on team usa and we learn viewership among teenage girls in the u.s. has skyrocketed, 55%, since the last summer games . so this is happening. the next generation is watching and ready to go as nbc's chris jansing reports tonight.

>> get the gold medals ready.

>> reporter: it's the kind of moment when dreams come true. and that inspires olympic dreams to take shape in the hearts of little girls. today aly raisman had that kind of thrilling performance.

>> it's a lot of hard work but at the end of the day the feeling of achievement is the best feeling in the world.

>> reporter: gabby douglas was already the all-around champion and since then the phones have been ringing incessantly at her home gym in iowa.

>> when i was growing up i always wanted to inspire people, inspire a nation. it was definitely on my bucket list.

>> reporter: she can check that one off. i love watching her do gymnastics. it's just so beautiful.

>> gabby told me never give up. work hard. and dedication.

>> reporter: from des moines to new york, georgia to florida, olympic fever is epidemic.

>> they ask right away are you going to be in the olympics? my answer is always, i hope.

>> reporter: the year of the woman is having a big impact on little girls in all kinds of sports. when alex morgan used her head to score a last-second epic goal for u.s. women's soccer last night, it created the kind of excitement usually reserved for superbowls and world series and it wasn't even the finals.

>> oh, my god. i'm still in shock.

>> reporter: and as 15-year-old katie ledecky was bringing her gold home to maryland last night little girls in oklahoma were joining the swim club. interest in archery was already growing thanks to some hit movies. now there aren't enough licensed instructors to keep up with demand.

>> it's awesome. i remember i was one of them before, too. and i love seeing little girls in archery.

>> reporter: athletes like miranda leek and jen sur who ended a russian winning streak in the pole vault in sports that rarely get attention are sending a message that transcends medals.

>> strong is getting prettier and prettier. i think that will be the real legacy of this olympics is that it's the last time anybody will tell a little girl , you know, girls don't really play that sport.

>> reporter: whether 6'1" like missy franklin or 4'11" like gabby douglas strength, power, and athleticism are cool. i asked the women athletes what do they learn from this competition? they say almost to a person discipline, team work , dealing with adversity. maybe it is no surprise that a recent survey found 80% of women executives at companies of at least 100 employees played team sports . brian?

>> that is a great message. strong is the new pretty. we're all writing that down.

>> reporter: we love it.

>> thank you very much. that