Despite never being very athletic, I’ve always loved The Olympics. I don’t know hat it is, but there’s something about this unifying event where we see lifetimes of hard work culminate in dreams coming true. For many, they don’t even need a medal. Just going to The Olympics is a dream come true.
When I was a kid, I was way more obsessed than I am now. I don’t think I ever dreamed of going there to compete. Rather, I dreamed of simply being able to do the things they were doing – like jumping and spinning on the ice or twirling on a balance beam. To this day, I regret not sticking with gymnastics, simply because I might’ve been able to do those things at one time.
In any case, watching these athletes do incredible things and break records is so uplifting to me. Especially when the woman athletes can hold more than their own against the men. I can’t believe what they do sometimes. So, for this week’s Badass Women, I’ll highlight just a few of the incredible female athletes competing in this years games. They inspire me so much through their strength and hard work, and I hope they do the same for you.
1. The “Final Five” U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team
Even before the team won their all around medal, it was apparent that these ladies were fierce powerhouses. Aly Raisman and Simone Biles are so focused and dominant, you can see their hard work and determination at ever point in the games. I think it must be easy to lose some of the focus once you’ve been to the games before,but Aly and Gabby held strong and came back to show exactly how strong they are. And I freaking love Laurie Hernandez. She is so confident and adorable, and I’m so glad she was in this year’s games so that young girls watching can feed off of her positivity and confidence. All of these women are such positive role models and I’m so grateful for them.
2. Katie Ledecky
This woman is such a beast. Every time she’s in the pool, she dominates the competition and crushes her own world records. What’s better is, I think she is more focused on pushing herself to see what she can do, rather than focusing on the other competitors (like Michael Phelps). She’s such a humble person and proud of her own strength, rather than using it to gloat or tear down other competitors. It’s amazing to watch her compete and I always smile along with her when she wins. Her personality is infectious, you can’t help it. Although the media will credit her husband for her success, we all know her hard work and perseverance are what truly matter.
3. Oksana Chusovitina
Okay, if you aren’t inspired by anyone else in The Olympics, Oksana is the one to change that. This 41-year-old gymnast from Uzbekistan has competed in 7 Olympic Games, won 2 Olympic medals in addition to 28 others in international and national gymnastic competitions, and is still going.
All of this while taking care of her son who is currently in remission from Leukemia. She is such a strong example to all of us to keep doing what we love and to never give up. I seriously hope I’m this badass when I’m her age, and I’m sure she keep going, keep doing what she loves, until the end. I support her all the way.
4. Yusra Mardini
First of all, it is so amazing to me that The Olympics now have a refugee team. I can’t imagine how meaningful it must be to have gone through hell in your own home, survived, and made it to the world stage to show just how strong you really are. This is definitely the case with Mardini. She is an 18-year-old swimmer who was displaced from Syria. During an escape with her family from Damascus, the overloaded raft they were using capsized. Mardini was one of a handful of people who offered to swim, pushing the raft and its occupants for three hours before reaching safety.
I can’t even imagine being in a situation like this. Her incredible strength and grace in speaking out about the refugee population is so admirable, especially considering she is only a teenager. I hope people will realize, because of her and many others, the realities of war and the need for understanding and change.
5. Simone Manuel
I couldn’t let this post go without talking about Manuel, who recently became the first AfricanAmerican woman to win a gold medal in swimming. It is a disgrace that it took this long, especially considering the rampant racism that lead to the draining of a pool when another African American woman stuck her toe in the water.
Manuel is such an amazing woman who realized the significance of even competing as a black swimmer, not to mention winning gold, even before she came to the Olympics. She is a strong independent woman making a grander statement for the entire world in a time when racial politics are an extremely sensitive point of contention.
Here’s a wonderful article about her from The Washington Post.
Even though she’s already made history, I hope we see a lot more of her in the future.
What Olympic athletes are inspiring you this year? How do you think the refugee team will change The Olympics? What are your favorite sports to watch? Let’s talk.