Women have been competing in the Olympics since 1990, but this year they really made their presence known. There were more female athletes at the 2012 London Olympics than ever before, and for the first time, every nation had at least one female athlete on their team. These women have set world records, broken barriers, and made history. Their stories show us that with confidence and perseverance anything is possible. As we begin another semester at TCNJ, remember these amazing female athletes who prove that girls really can do it all!
At only 17 years old, not only, did Missy Franklin qualify for more Olympic events than any other American woman, but she went on to win a total of five Olympic medals, with four of them being gold! Despite her success, fame hasn’t changed her. Missy is described by her teammates as a totally real and genuine person, charming the world with not only her amazing athletic talent, but also her spirit and drive.
Even with criticism from the country’s Islamic clerics who said that Shaherkhani dishonored herself by competing in front of men, this sixteen-year-old made history by becoming the first Saudi woman to compete in the Olympic games. There were worries that Shaherkhani would not be able to compete when the judo federation ruled that she could not wear the hijab, the traditional Muslim hair covering required by the Saudi federation. Fortunately, both sides reached an agreement, and Shaherkhani made it to the mat for her first Olympic judo match. Although she lost to Puerto Rico’s Melissa Mojica, she still scored a huge win for women.
Saudi Arabia’s only other female athlete, Sarah Attar, finished the 800-metter in 2 minutes, 44 seconds, but the time was not important. As the first woman from Saudi Arabia to compete in a track and field event, those two laps were truly historic. As she rounded the corner to finish the last 100 meters, hundreds of spectators rose to give her a standing ovation.
Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings
Quite a bit older than 16, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings still have what it takes to win! At 34 and 35, they earned their third Olympic gold medal at the London Olympics in beach volleyball, showing the world that even as their competition gets younger and tougher, this experienced duo still deserves a
spot on the podium.
Perhaps nothing was quite as inspiring as watching Gaby Douglas compete on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team. She stayed confident as she performed each of her routines for the judges, helping her team earn the gold. This confidence continued to her next competition for the coveted title of Olympic All-Around champion. At just sixteen years old, Gaby became the first African American women to win this title!