On July 23, 2021, the Olympic ceremonies officially began with fewer dazzling effects than usual — they were aiming to make it more somber due to an acknowledgement of the COVID-19 Pandemic. But even though the pandemic slowed the games down, there’s no slowing down these female athletes, who are some of the fiercest ever to compete for their countries. Here are the most impressive women of the Olympics 2020 that we’re rooting for all the way.
1. Momiji Niyisha
Niyisha is just 13 years old, and is the very first gold medalist in women’s street skateboarding, which is a new sport in the Olympics this year. She’s also Japan’s youngest Olympic medalist of all time. This young inspiration is breaking boundaries at the same age that we were simply trying to figure out puberty.
2. Germany gymnastics team
This whole team showed a beautiful moment of solidarity when they claimed they were fed up of being sexualized, and switched their outfits to full length unitards rather than bikini-cut leotards, pushing back against the sexualization of women in the sport. Finally, someone said it!
3. Simone Biles
After winning so many back-to-back victories, Simone Biles barely needs an intro by now. The 24-year-old is aiming to cement herself as the best gymnast of all time, and that’s a realistic goal given her accomplishments thus far. With 5 Olympic medals and 25 World Championship medals, there’s no slowing down this queen. She even fell during a routine and still earned the highest score. Biles is also discussing the importance of mental health in sports, which is often swept under the rug.
4. Naomi Osaka
There’s been no shortage of news about Osaka recently, but nothing will take away from the fact that she’s an icon in tennis. The Japanese and Haitian athlete is repping her birth country and is one of the major faces of the 2020 Olympics. She’s ranked #2 in the world and it’s her first Olympics, but with 4 grand slams under her belt, we’re not too worried about the outcome.
5. Gwen Berry
Berry made history with her fierce racial and social justice advocacy when she turned away from the US flag during the national anthem. She explained to CNN that she “will not stand for any type of symbol or song that does not stand for all people in America.” She also raised her fist on the podium at the 2019 Pan American Games.
6. Laurel Hubbard
Hubbard, an impressive weightlifter out of New Zealand, has made history as the first trans athletes to be selected for the Olympics. While she didn’t earn any wins, she’s still a pioneer of possibility for trans folks in sports, and wanted to thank the IOC for being “inclusive” and “accessible”.
7. Rikako Ikee
This swimming champ was well on her way to the 2020 Olympics before she was given the heartbreaking news in 2018 that she had Leukaemia. Just 3 years later, through multiple hospitalizations, she’s returned to the pool to represent her country in a completely inspiring act.
8. Jade Jones
This double Olympian has won gold at London and Rio, but in Tokyo, she’s aiming to make history with a 3rd goal medal. This has never been accomplished by a Taekwondo athlete, but we have faith that Jade can do it!
9. Ramla Ali
We wouldn’t want to get into the ring with Ramla! The Somalia-born and London-raised Ramla Ali carried the flag at the opening ceremony. She had to go through the hoops of setting up a boxing federation for Somalia just to make sure she could compete for them.
10. Allyson Felix
One thing is for sure — Allyson Felix is a beast in sprint and relay. The Olympian has won 5 awards, earning a silver medal in 2004, and a gold in 2012 at the London games. If she wins this year, she’ll become the most decorated athlete of all time, regardless of gender, in track and filed history! It’s also her first Olympics before she became a mom to little Camryn in 2018.
11. Alice Dearing
Dearing, a 10km open water swimming, has made history as the first Black swimming to rep Team GB at the Olympic Games. The 24 year old has also founded the UK’s Black Swimming Association.
12. Carissa Moore
Carissa is slaying surfing at the 2020 Olympics, and has earned 4 world titles already. December 2019 marks her most recent win, where she triumphed over Lakey Peterson and Caroline Marks. Moore is currently the top-ranked surfer in the world. On July 27th, she became the first woman ever to win a gold in surfing at the games.
13. Katie Ledecky
Ledecky is the first woman swimmer to earn 6 individual goal medals throughout the course of her career. She’s sympathized with Simon Biles, and is all about leading the mental health conversation surrounding athletes, who face a significantly high amount of pressure daily.