Women are crushing it in Rio
By Tahnee Lacey
I have a secret, I have never watched the Olympics before. Ok so maybe I've watched a bit of gymnastics or ice skating but that is about it. I find live sports exciting but televised sports doesn't appeal to me. This year has entirely changed. I sat glued to my TV for a bit over two hours watching the US marathon trials. I sat in anticipation hoping Desi Linden would make it (spoiler: she placed second). And every night since the Rio Olympics have begun I have tuned in to watch sports I suddenly find myself caring about (cycling, swimming, gymnastics, can you even handle all the excitement)?
On Tuesday night, after his "don't mess with me face" became a meme Michael Phelps won his 20th gold medal and by the time this is posted he might have won his 22nd. But do you know what's even more exciting and amazing about the 2016 Rio Olympics?
Women are crushing it this year.
By the numbers, the USA Olympic team was 269-261… women vs. men. That’s right, women are dominating the US team. Saudi Arabia has sent four women to Rio, doubling their numbers since London 2012. And finally, in our dear neighbor to the north Canada, every medal they have won thus far in the competition has been won by… you guessed it… a woman.
For those of you who haven’t been watching, here is the kind of girl power you have missed:
Ayesha Al Balooshi: Al Balooshi placed 7th in her group for weightlifting. What’s important about this? She represented the United Arab Emirates. The only other women they sent are representing in swimming and track. Kudos to the one woman who dares to lift some heavy weights in a country where this might not be popular.
Kristin Armstrong: Armstrong took home gold for the women’s time trial and then celebrated her 43rd birthday the following day. She is also the only cyclist to win three consecutive gold medals in the same discipline… while managing to hold down a job (she is the Director of Community Health at a hospital in Boise) and her family. So to all those women who wonder if you can have it all, the answer Armstrong is showing us is yes.
Oksana Chusovitina: Chusovitina is 41 and is competing for the Uzbekistan gymnastics team in the vault. This is her 7th time at the Olympics. I am just going to give you a few minutes to sit and stare in awe at her.
Katinka Hosszu: Hosszu’s husband has been garnering attention for his inability to control his excitement while watching his wife, but it’s Katinka who is doing the real work. She won the gold medal and broke the world record in the 400m individual, won gold and broke the Olympic record in the 200m individual and won a gold medal in the 100m backstroke. You know… no big deal.
Kerri Walsh Jennings: Admittedly I haven’t watched a single beach volleyball match, but I do know that Jennings is the name to watch. Jennings and her former teammate Misty-May Treanor were gold medalists in beach volleyball at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics. This year, she and teammate April Ross have continued to slay the competition and are on to the next round.
Lilly King: Lilly King won the gold for the 100m breaststroke but it’s her stance on doping which has really pushed her into the spotlight. There has been a lot of scandal around the Russian team and many of them have not been allowed to compete due to the state-wide doping scandal. Yulia Efimova has been previously involved in doping scandals but was allowed to compete in the Rio Olympics and was going against King in the 100m breaststroke. Shots of King backstage while Efimova competed in the prelims showed her eye rolling which of course garnered some attention. The 19-year-old was not shy to share her opinion on being able to compete despite being involved in doping scandals and stated after her win, “It was so incredible, winning a gold medal and knowing I did it clean.”
Katie Ledecky: You’ve likely been hearing Ledecky’s name everywhere. The girl is on fire and has racked up gold medals in the 200m freestyle, 400m freestyle, 4X200m freestyle relay and one silver medal for the 4X100m freestyle relay. I don’t know much about swimming, but I do know that this girl is special and amazing to watch.
Wu Minxia: Minxia took home the gold medal for women’s synchronized diving giving her bragging rights as having the most diving gold medals won by a woman in Olympic history. She is the first woman to win four golds in the same event at the Olympics and at age 30, is the oldest woman to win an Olympic diving gold medal.
US Women’s Gymnastics Team: I mean… do you really even need words here? Simone Biles and the crew tore up the floor during the team competition. Not only did they take home the gold medal, but they completely blew away the competition. If you missed Laurie Hernandez’s wink to the judges during her floor routine, I highly recommend looking it up. While Gabby Douglas won’t be competing in the individual events as each country is only allowed two competitors, her scores were still 2.6 points higher than the fourth place competitor.
Fu Yuanhui: Yuanhui is a member of the Chinese team and she might not be racking up the individual medals, her unbridled enthusiasm over winning bronze with her team during the 100m backstroke has made her a beloved face of the Rio Olympics. If you want to see some of her amazing expressions, the good people at the Huffington Post have a lovely article about Yuanhiu.
Simone Manuel: Simone Manuel competed in the women's 100m freestyle and became the first African American woman to win an individual swimming event in US Olympic history! Simone tied for first place with Penny Oleksiak of Canada and both women set a new Olympic record of 57.20 seconds.
It's not too late to get in on the action. Here's who you should look out for over the next few days...
Women's Marathon: Coming up we still have all the amazing track and field athletes including Desi Linden, Amy Cragg and Shalane Flanagan (did you watch this pair at the marathon trials?)
Tirunesh Dibaba & Molly Huddle: Tirunesh Dibaba, 3 time gold medalist, of Ethiopia will take on US favorite Molly Huddle in the women's 10K. Both of these women have had incredible training seasons and we can't wait to see them compete.
Women's Soccer: Fresh off a World Cup win, the USWNT is hoping to snag a gold medal in Rio. They will face Sweden in a Quarterfinal round.
Also be on the lookout for women's basketball, fencing, BMX riding, and more. I know that there are quite a few amazing women I missed from the above list so if you have a favorite 2016 Olympic athlete let us know in the comments. In our girl squad we are all about support and girl power.
As Beyonce would say, “who runs the world? Girls!”
Tahnee Lacey is a Chicago-based avid runner, lover of group fitness (trainer and participant), owner of cats and appreciator of donuts. You can follow her on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/trainertlace/.
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