It’s a question that gets asked a lot, in all kinds of circles, from feminist ones to the family around the dinner table ones; where are the good role models for girls today? In the eyes of some, the female youth of the world have nothing other than Disney Princesses, Pop-Princesses, Super Models and (erm) Porn Stars to look up to…
To them I say, look at a television, where the Olympics are on…
There really are some pretty amazing women doing some pretty amazing stuff in Beijing. I mean, I love the Olympics, I love sports, and I love seeing women athletes from all over the world out there doing their thing, competing hard, giving it all they’ve got, win or lose. There are some awesome women doing just that, right now! And I can’t help but think that’s not only cool, but yeah, it could be mighty inspiring.
From top left to bottom right, we have…
Guo Jingjing of China, a three time Olympian, multiple medallist, and the most decorated female diver in the history of the sport.
Cheryl Haworth of the US, a two time Olympian weight lifter who won bronze in Sydney.
Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia, a two time Olympian who won gold in Athens and is looking to defend it in Beijing in Pole Vault…she also holds the world record.
Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia, a runner who won Bronze in Athens and Gold in Beijing, and she’s not done yet!
Lolo Jones of the US is in her first Olympics here, doing the 100-meter hurdles. She’s the indoor world champ, and looking for medals in China, and sounds like an all around cool woman who cares a lot about her community.
Ryoko Tani of Japan has been in five Olympic Games and won five medals in Judo.
Natalia Dobrynska of Ukraine is now known as the best female athlete in the world…winning gold in the heptathlon tends to bring that title with it.
Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe has seven swimming medals to her credit, won in Athens and Beijing. She is also a bit of a national hero.
Meseret Defar of Ethiopia won gold in track in Athens, and is looking to do it again.
Jeannie Longo Ciprelli is a French Cyclist who won medals in 92, 96, and 2000…she’s doing some coaching these days.
Zhang Juanjuan is a Chinese competitor in Archery, she’s been in two Olympics, and has three medals; two silver, one gold.
Dara Torres of the US has been in five Olympics, tearing up the swimming pool. She’s 41, has 12 medals, oh, and happens to be a mom.
Nastia Luiken of the US Gymnastics team is now a 3 time medal winner, and did so with style and grace.
Fencers Rebecca Ward, Sada Jacobson and Mariel Zagunis of the US are all now multiple medallists…and students at Duke, Yale, and Notre Dame.
Paola Espinosa won the first diving medal for women for Mexico at the 2008 games.
And she’s not on the picture, but how about Oksana Chusovitina, who at the age of 33 won a silver medal in gymnastics on the vault today? How about the story about her son, and her coach Shanna Bruggemann, and how she went from competing for the Soviet Union, to the Unified Team, to Uzbekistan, to Germany? Have you heard that story? You really should. Truly a tale of not one, but two pretty amazing women.
Plenty of good role model material there, don’t you think?
Florence Griffith-Joyner, I thought she was simply amazing; muscle, beauty, style, grace, charisma, determination and a wonderful smile. Oh, and some damn fast feet too! Two Olympics, five medals, and a couple world records. I remember when I heard that FloJo had died at the age of 38 on September 21, 1998, I cried. She was, after all, a superhero of my youth, and certainly someone who inspired me to run.
So yeah, thank you women athletes of the world, good luck to you, and the girls and young women you inspire. You are role models.
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