25 inspirational female athletes under 25 at Rio Olympics
They are all winners
Here’s a round-up of some of the most inspiring women competing in this year’s Rio Olympics.
Yusra Mardini, 18- Swimming- Syria/Stateless Athlete
This 18-year-old Syrian swimmer quite literally swam for her life in order to take part in this year’s Olympic Games. Whilst making the treacherous journey from her war-torn home city of Damascus to Berlin, the boat carrying her and 20 other refugees began to fill with water. Yusra and her sister, both skilled swimmers, pushed their boat from the water for four hours- saving the lives of 19 other refugees with their heroic actions.
Dina Asher-Smith, 20- Athletics; 200m, 4 x 100m relay- Great Britain
Not many university students can handle a part-time job alongside their studies, let alone training for one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world today. But Dina Asher-Smith is no ordinary pupil. She recently became the first female 200m European Champion for Great Britain and is expected to produce even more incredible results during the Games.
Becky Downie, 24- Artistic gymnastics- Great Britain
Since this artistic gymnast missed out on competing in London’s 2012 Games, she’s made every effort to come back fighting. With a gold on the uneven bars at this year’s European Championships under her belt, there’s no doubt she’ll be stiff competition for USA’s team, their main rivals. Look out for double trouble as Becky and her younger sister, Ellie compete side by side on Great Britain’s artistic gymnast team.
Laura Trott, 24- Cycling- Great Britain
With the prospect of becoming the most successful female British Olympian of all time should she win a gold medal at Rio Olympics, the pressure’s on for this golden girl. But Trott believes she’s “ready” for the challenge, even hoping that she could become a Lady should she bring home top prize this year.
Missy Franklin, 21- Swimmer- United States
As a four-time Olympic gold medallist and 200-metre backstroke women’s world record holder, Franklin is already a veteran at the young age of 21, but there’s no sign of her slowing down yet. Despite all her incredible sporting achievements, Franklin claims her favourite role is mentoring young women.
Katie Ledecky, 19- Swimming- United States
Since she memorably beat British swimming star, Rebecca Adlington, to third place in London 2012, at the ripe old age of 15, Ledecky has swum from strength to strength. In 2015’s World Swimming Championships, she went where no swimmer has before and won every single race in the freestyle category. What’s more, once the Olympics are out the way, Katie will enroll at Stanford on a swimming scholarship- this girl’s got it all.
Lydia Ko, 19- Golf- New Zealand
Aged 15, she became the youngest winner of a Ladies Professional Golf Association title. Two years later, she became the youngest player to be ranked No. 1. Aged 19, she became the youngest two-times major champion(male or female) to date. After hearing that golf was to be reintroduced as an Olympic sport for the first time since 1904, Ko can now add Olympian to her already impressive resume.
Ellie Downie, 17- Artistic Gymnast- Great Britain
The younger half of double trouble duo, the Double Downies, Ellie burst onto the national scene in 2012, winning an incredible six gold medals at the UK School Games. Since then she’s vaulted from one winner’s podium to another, being chosen to represent Great Britain after her performance in 2014’s Youth Olympic Games.
Isis Holt, 15- Athletics; T35 sprints- Australia
At 15, Holt stands to be one of the youngest Paralympic champions should she bring home a gold from Rio. With two world titles and two world records already in the bag, this Aussie will be a rising star to watch at this year’s Games.
Noelle Lenihan, 16- Athletics; Discus- Ireland
Recently named as one of IPC’s ‘Athletes to Watch’ for Rio 2016, Lenihan has been gathering momentum in the lead-up to this year’s Paralympic Games. But she’s already shown that she can live up to the hype, after setting a new world record at the IPC Athletics World Championships in Italy earlier this year.
Rani Rampal, 21- Field Hockey- India
Aside from the battles faced by any Olympian hopeful, Rampal has had to overcome poverty and immense gender inequality in order to represent her country on the international stage. In spite of these challenges, her efforts on the pitch have earned India’s Women’s Hockey Team a place at Rio 2016.
Lisa Darmanin, 24- Sailing- Australia
In this male dominated sport, Aussie sailor Darmanin has made some major waves and she’s urging for more women to get professionally involved in the sport. This year, she’ll be making her Olympic debut alongside cousin and fellow athlete, Jason Waterhouse. Since winning a bronze medal in 2014 and a silver in 2015, there’s no doubt they’ll be going for an Olympic gold.
Claressa Shields, 21- Boxing- United States
Originating from Flint, Michigan, Shields prides herself on exhibiting that “you can do anything you want to do” irrespective of your situation. In spite of her difficult childhood, she became the first American female to win gold in Boxing. Despite her incredible achievements, life after London was not as glamorous as she expected, however, Shields is far from disheartened and is looking to bring home more medals this year.
Allyson Felix- Athletics; Track and Field- United States
The world’s best in 200m, Felix is hot on the heels of the current world record holder of the most Olympic track and field medals. As Rio will be her fourth Olympic Games, she’s full of advice for first time Olympians and urges them to “Enjoy it. Experience everything the Olympics have to offer. Just savor the moment. You never know in sports what’s going to happen to you. Embrace it.”
Si Yajie, 17- Diving- China
Despite only being 17 years old, Yajie already has 11 years of experience diving and is expected to make quite the splash at Rio 2016. At just 14 years of age, she won the 10-meter platform title in 2013’s World Championships.
Yana Kudryavtseva, 18 – Rhythmic Gymnastics- Russia
At 15, Yana, otherwise known as the ‘Angel with Iron Wings’, became the youngest ever all-around world champion in Rhythmic Gymnastics. Since then she’s claimed even more titles as three-time world champion in the all-rounder and two-time European Championship winner, among others. This year, she’s spreading her wings to make her debut appearance on the Olympic stage.
Ami Kondo, 21- Judo- Japan
Following in her sumo wrestler father’s footsteps, Kondo entered the world of martial arts aged 5. In 2014, Kondo won the World championships and followed her impressive achievement with a win at the Junior World championships two months later.
Fran Kirby, 23- Football- Great Britain
Since she quit the sport three years ago , Kirby has made a spectacular comeback. Having overcome a debilitating bout of depression, her commitment to the sport is a testament to her strength and ability to bring home the medals for Great Britain in this year’s Games.
Nathike Lokonyen, 23- Athletics; 800m- South Sudan/Stateless Athlete
It wasn’t until recently that Nathike even realised the extent of her abilities. Having fled war in South Sudan at the age of 10, she resided in a refugee camp in North Kenya and was pleasantly surprised at her success in a 10km without any prior training. She hopes that if she succeeds at Rio, she will be able to “come back and conduct a race that can promote peace, and bring people together.”
Anjelina Nadai Lohalith, 21- Athletics; 1,500m- South Sudan/Stateless Athlete
Anjelina, also a refugee from war-torn South Sudan, similarly learned of her talents whilst residing in a refugee camp in Kenya. In her journey to Rio she has conquered all the odds, without the support of her parents who she was forced to leave behind in Sudan. She claims her main motivation for Rio 2016 is that it will allow her to return and help her parents.
Eilish Mccolgan, 25- Athletics; 3000m steeplechase- Great Britain
In spite of a number of disheartening setbacks, Mccolgan’s continued resilience and vows to return to the sport have resulted in her being dubbed ‘The Terminator’. After missing out on the steeplechase finals in the London 2012 Games, she’s hoping to overcome her injuries for a win this year.
After competing for Albania in the London 2012 Olympics, Majlinda is elated to be able to fight under the flag of her homeland, Kosovo, for the first time at Rio. This will be the first Olympic Games which recognise Kosovo as a country and Majlinda has been awarded the honour of flag bearer.
Hannah Cockcroft, 24- Wheelchair Sprints Athlete- Great Britain
She’s fast, and arguably furious too. An advocate for ability over disability, Hannah is pushing for equality in the sporting world and the Olympics is no exception.
Ellie Simmonds, 21- Swimming- Great Britain
Since winning two Olympic medals at the mere age of 13 during the Beijing Paralympics in 2008, Simmonds has made quite the splash on the sporting scene. After becoming the youngest recipient of an MBE at 14, she has continued her winning streak and now holds an incredible 13 World titles to her name.
Rafaela Silva, 24- Judo- BrasilPhoto: Rafaela Silva’s Twitter
This Olympic host national is hoping to bring some redemption for her homeland in this year’s Olympics. Having grown up in a favela a mere stone’s throw from the glittering Olympic stadiums, Rafaela is looking likely to bring back a glinting gold medal for her country in the weeks to come.
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