By Niraja Surendran
With less than a month left until the Olympics begin, I am as excited as can be! Rio 2016 is predicted to be the most watched Olympics games on television, which is no surprise considering fan favorites like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt are returning to compete. In addition to these talented men, there are many female powerhouses to watch out for, competing from across the globe in the following sports:
Federica Pellegrini and Katie Ledecky are two dominant swimmers who will be competing at Rio 2016. Pellegrini is the first female Olympic champion from Italy, and this will be the fourth Olympics she participates in. Ledecky is a 19-year-old from the U.S. who many have hailed as the most competitive swimmer in the Rio 2016 games, for she holds world records in the 400, 800, and 1,500 meter freestyles.
Team USA has won gold medals in women’s basketball for the past five Olympics. A prominent member of this year’s team is 36-year-old Tamika Catchings, who hopes to win her fourth gold medal at the Rio 2016 games before retiring. Experts predict that Australia will be the United States’ greatest contender. One member of the Australian Olympic team to watch out for is Lauren Jackson, a 35-year-old basketball star who has won three silver and two bronze Olympic medals; like Catchings, this will be her last Olympic games.
Track and Field
Allyson Felix and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce are two female athletes the whole world has been buzzing about. Felix is currently the world’s best 200 meter runner and is tied with Jackie Joyner-Kersee as the American woman to win the most gold track and field medals. Felix also holds nine world titles across four different disciplines, proving she is not only a successful but also a very versatile athlete. She is only three medals away from becoming the woman to win the most gold medals in any sport, a title that is currently held by Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina. Felix will be competing in both the 200m and the 400m at Rio 2016.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is also a force that should not be reckoned with! This Jamaican sprinter has been dominant for nearly a decade and holds two Olympic and seven world titles.
Katie Taylor is a defending Olympic, world, and European lightweight champion to watch out for this year. She has won five successive world titles and 11 Republic of Ireland caps. Another contender is Claressa Shields, who became the first American woman to win a gold medal in boxing at the London 2012 games when she was 17-years-old. Shields has been undefeated ever since, and both women surely won’t go down without a fight!
Simone Biles is a talented American gymnast who has won the U.S. national title for four consecutive years from 2013-2016 as well as the all-around world championship from 2013-2015. In rhythmic gymnastics, Yana Kudryavtseva is a promising contestant. Although this is her first Olympics, the 18-year-old Russian has won three gold medals in the 2013 world championships, where she became the youngest all-around world champion at only 15-years-old.
Serena Williams is not only a tennis wonder but also a strong, personable woman. She is a kind-hearted philanthropist, feminine warrior, and champion for African American rights. The inspiring 34-year-old American icon also has four Olympic gold medals and 21 grand slam titles; she is my personal favorite for Rio 2016!
These are only a few of the hundreds of amazing female athletes who will be competing at Rio 2016, inspiring women and girls around the world to pursue their dreams and become better athletes. Which female athlete are you most excited to see in the Olympics? Comment her name down below!