Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics, wasn’t a big fan of women’s participation at the Games.
Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics, wasn’t a big fan of women’s participation at the Games. In 1928, he said: “If some women want to play football or box, let them, provided the event takes place without spectators because the spectators who flock to such competitions aren’t there to watch a sport.” Coubertin was right and wrong. He was right because American sprinter Florence Griffith-Joyner wouldn’t have garnered as much attention as she did in the 80s if not for the way she looked or dressed. How could one explain the millions of dollars raked in by Russian diva Anna Kournikova, who couldn’t win a WTA title in her career leave alone a grand slam At the same time, however, it would be downright sexist to suggest that women are nothing more than pretty dolls on playing fields. Women have come a long way at the Olympics. They are participants in every sport and they compete in all athletic disciplines except the 50-kilometre race walking. And, they work no less hard than men and are as fiercely competitive. Rio 2016 will feature quite a few women athletes with style and substance.
Jessica Ennis-Hill Nationality: Great Britain, Age: 30 Sport: Athletics/heptathlon Achievements: Champion at 2012 London Olympics & 2015 World Championship
Jessica Ennis-Hill was the poster girl at the London Games four years ago. The ever-smiling heptathlete matched mounting expectations at home by winning a well-deserved gold for Great Britain. After giving birth to a child after the London high, she had to start from scratch to recapture her old form. It’s never easy for many but Jessica isn’t Jessica without her resilience. If getting back to competitive shape was the first challenge, Canada’s Brianne Theisen-Eaton would not make it easy for her at Rio. Brianne owns the best score in the gruelling combined event this year and she would be keen to match her husband Ashton Eaton’s performance at the Olympics. USA’s Eaton, the world record holder in the decathlon, is the defending Olympics champion.
Dafne Schippers Nationality: The Netherlands Age: 24 Sport: Athletics/100m & 200m Achievements: 100m silver and 200m gold at 2015 world championship
Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands leads the impressive list of women who are bold and beautiful, ebullient and efficient. Starting off in the heptathlon, the Dutchwoman enjoyed a lot of success in junior level. After winning a bronze medal at the world championship in 2013, she decided to shift her focus to sprinting. Wow, her rise in the glitzy world of sprint was meteoric.
Schippers, the sprinter, announced her arrival with a sensational performance at the 2015 worlds. After taking the 100m silver, she obliterated the 200m field in a record time of 21.63 seconds. The blonde heads into Rio with the best time of the year in the 200m (22.02) and she will be a medal contender in the 100m as well.
Jessica Fox Nationality: Australian Age: 22 Sport: Canoeing/K1
It isn’t a surprise that Australia’s Jessica Fox took up canoeing because her parents are Olympians in the sport. The effervescent woman with a perm and dimples isn’t just carrying the family torch; she is a winner. After clinching the silver medal in K1 (kayaking individual) at the London Games, the slalom specialist won gold in three successive world championships. Nobody will be surprised if Fox nails the gold in Rio. She also has an electric smile to light up the Olympic arena.
Aly Raisman Nationality: USA | Age: 22 Sport: Gymnastics Achievements: 2 gold and a bronze at the London Olympics.
Getting into the US women’s gymnastics team is as tough as winning an Olympic medal. Aly Raisman has got the honour of being named the US captain for the second game in succession. At 22, she is the oldest member of the US team and that’s why she is “grandma” to her team-mates.
But Raisman, who won two gold (team and floor) in London 2012, would give her younger rivals a run for their money at Rio. Having taken part in Dancing with the Stars and posing nude for a sports magazine’s body issue, she is already a celebrity in the US and another gold rush at the Olympics will cement her place among the A-listers.