“Training of female athletes is so new that the limits of female possibility are still unknown.” ~Katherine Dunn
In celebration of the Olympics, I would like to honor the women out there who have overcome odds and won medals through the years.
Don’t Let Being a Woman Ever Stop You…2012 Olympic Muslim Women
For the first time, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei all entered women athletes into the 2012 Olympic Games. Each of them had to fight for the right just to train in their sport to get to London. They were used to being heckled and screamed at to get back to their house where they belonged. In countries where women are banned from driving and cannot leave the house without a male chaperone, let alone compete in the biggest sports event in the world in front of millions of people. Their families have been threatened and shunned, the clergy called them “Prostitutes of the Olympics,” but they fought on. Imagine what the cheers of the crowds celebrating their courage as they stepped into the arena in their Muslim-adapted athletic clothing sounded like to them.
23 year old Afghanistani 100 meter sprinter, Tahmina Kohistan, commented, “I faced a lot of challenges in my training for the London Olympics. One day I was coming to the stadium and the taxi driver asked me where I was going. I said ‘I am training, I am going to London Olympics’ and he said ‘get out of the cab, I don’t want to take you there.’ Whenever I train there’s a lot of people who want to disturb me. They say ‘just leave these things, it’s not good for Afghan females to do these things.’” She then boldly declared, “I have a message for the women of Afghanistan. Come and join me. We must be ready for the next Olympics. I’m going to do my best to be in Brazil, I am going to give reason for other athletes to follow my way.”
Although none of the women placed, they achieved a far nobler prize.
Seeing Yourself is and Inward Action…Marla Runyan
For a woman who cannot see, Marla Runyan certainly has vision. After macular degeneration stripped the runner of her sight at just nine years old, she became the first legally-blind athlete to compete in the Olympics when she placed eighth in the 2000 Games in the 1,500-meter event. Her Paralympic record is even more impressive: five times she left the medal circle wearing gold.
Her doctors told her they didn’t have many expectations for her life when she lost her sight as a young girl. She not only disproved all expectations, but she did so with grace and speed, and with the determination to live as normal a life as any other Olympic female athlete.
Your Motivation Must Come 100% From You… Penny Heyns
She is a South African swimming star, who is a double Olympic gold and Olympic bronze medalist. She is the only woman in Olympic history to win both the 100 and 200 meter breaststroke events in Atlanta 1996, bronze in Sydney 2000 and by breaking a total of 14 individual world records during her swimming career.
The first thing her coach said to her when he decided he would coach her was, “If you’re willing to give 100%, I’ll give a 100%. But it’s all up to you. The commitment must come from you. I don’t want you to come to the pool because I’m standing there. You must come because it’s from you!”
Defy Others’ Expectations of You…Alice Coachman
In 1948, Alice Coachman was the only U.S. woman to win a gold medal—despite the fact that segregation prevented her from training in white-only facilities. She was also the first African-American woman to ever win a gold medal. She was so obsessed with achieving track and field success that she trained wherever and however she could, including running barefoot in fields and jumping over rags and sticks for hours each day to improve her high jump, the event in which she took the gold.
Even after she stopped competing, she continued to break records. She benefited from endorsement deals and was the first African-American female athlete to do so. In later years, she formed the Alice Coachman Track and Field Foundation to support young athletes and provide help for Olympic veterans. When Atlanta hosted the 1996 Olympics, she was honored as one of the top 100 greatest Olympic athletes. Since the end of her career, she has been inducted into eight different halls of fame.
You Must Be Tough in Spirit… Sara Reinersten
“The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them.” ~Anon
American triathlete, writer and motivational speaker, and former Paralympic athlete 1992. She was the first female leg amputee to complete the Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.
Setbacks and Difficulties Must Be Overcome…Natalie du Toit
Natalie du Toit is a South African swimmer who lost her leg in a car accident. She is best known for the gold medals she won at the 2004 Paralympic Games as well as the Commonwealth Games. Natalie impressively became the first leg amputee ever to qualify for the Olympics.
I say, “If I’m able to go out there and achieve a dream, then anybody can do it.”
Age is Just a Number…Dara Torres
Gold Medal champion swimmer, Dara Torres. At the age of 41, Dara took home her 12th career Olympic medal in the 2008 Games as part of the U.S. 4X100-meter medley relay team. This is a remarkable physical achievement, especially given the fact that the average age of U.S. Olympic team members at the Beijing games was 26.8 years.
She has set three world records and has brought home twelve Olympic medals, including four gold. Dara Torres is arguably the fastest female swimmer in America.
“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” ~Calvin Coolidge
Some of these highlights were found from the article 5 Famous Female Athletes Reveal Attitudes Needed for Dream Achievement.