The Olympics are almost here! As they get closer we’re getting more and more excited for this year’s events. This year is especially thrilling because the United States is sending more women Olympians than any other country in the history of the Olympics! Out of the 292 amazing women representing Team USA in Rio this summer, here are a few that I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for!
Simone Biles has won more world championship gold medals than any other U.S. gymnast and I wasn’t surprised to hear that she is considered the best gymnast in the world. She became the first female gymnast to win three straight World Championships at the 2012 Olympics, and we think she’s going for 4 in a row this year at Rio. The “Gymternet” even believes that she could fall down during her routine – twice – and still win gold. She’s that good. I have no doubt in Simone’s abilities and I’m excited to watch her blow our minds with her incredible skills this summer in Rio.
Kerri Walsh has 3 Olympic gold medals – one to go along with each of her 3 kids. Neither parenting nor competing in the Olympics is easy, but you’d never know that by looking at Kerri. She is always calm and collected – whether she’s on the volleyball court or in her house trying to convince her kids to eat kale chips. Kerri said “being a parent has made me a better athlete, and being an athlete has made me such a better parent.” We expect Kerri to kick butt at her 5th Olympics and I’m sure her kids will be watching and cheering along with us as she dominates on the court.
Ibtihaj Muhammad is the first hijabi women to compete on Team USA at the Olympics. Ibtihaj originally chose fencing because it was the only sport where she would be able to dress according to her faith and still compete. Now, in the face of the upcoming Olympics, she is using her fame to advocate for Muslims across the United States and doing her part to fight those who seem to believe people can’t be both Muslim and American at the same time. Ibtihaj will be representing the United States of America at this year’s Olympics and in the words of President Obama, this is proof that she, and all the other Muslim Americans in this country are “right where [they] belong”. Just like Obama, we also expect Ibtihaj to “bring home the gold” for Team USA.
Becky Sauerbrunn is co-captain of the US Women’s National Soccer Team and an avid believer in equal rights. Becky is one of the 5 soccer players that filed a complaint charging the US Soccer Federation with wage discrimination. Becky said she is motivated by “the injustice of it. There’s no justification to not be paid the same as the men.” I agree Becky, and know that I’m standing with you on this case and rooting for you at the Olympics!
Claressa Shields was the first American woman to win Olympic gold in boxing. As amazing as this is, what’s even more amazing, and disheartening, is the lack of attention and lack of endorsements that Claressa received after returning home. Maybe this lack of attention was because boxing isn’t a “feminine sport”, but actually, that’s what makes Claressa so awesome. She’s excelling at a sport that society doesn’t expect women to be interested in. Femininity isn’t just about being petite and dainty – although it can be – being feminine is about being unapologetically fierce and doing what makes you feel good. Claressa knew this and that’s why she didn’t let the United States’ non-response affect her. She remains one of the best boxers in the world and she is training to be the first female boxer to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals. I hope this time the rest of the United States, and the world, will pay more attention when she comes home triumphant.