These athletes are the best and brightest you really ought to watch at the Rio Games.
Doaa Elghobashy of Egypt
While news agencies in certain countries (which bomb other countries in the pursuit of ‘freedom’) seem intent on making her the poster-girl for the ‘oppression’ of women, Doaa Elghobashy counters that she chooses to wear a hijab. The hijab that covered her hair, the long sleeves of her shirt and covered legs were in stark contrast to her German opponents but let’s focus on her skills, maybe?
Simone Biles of the United States
Nineteen-year-old Simone is a slight 1.42m but she has the gymnastics world at her feet. Biles is the three-time world all-around champion, three-time world floor champion, two-time world balance beam champion, four-time United States national all-around champion, and a member of the gold medal-winning American teams at the 2014, 2015 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, and the 2016 Olympic games in Rio. Biles is the first African-American to be world all-around champion and the first woman to win three consecutive world all-around titles.
Did I mention ‘The Biles’? That’s Biles’ signature move, which entered the International Federation of Gymnastics’ Code of Points in 2013 when she became the first gymnast to complete the motion in a world competition.
Dutee Chand of India
The Indian sprinter was born with a slightly elevated level of testosterone forcing her to endure humiliating and intrusive questions about her private and professional life. Chand’s undeniable talent is apparent and her refusal to acquiesce to suggestions that she should take hormone-suppressing medication or undergo surgery to limit her testosterone levels is a testament to her strong-will and fighting spirit.
Rafaela Silva of Brazil
The first gold medal for Brazil came from a 24-year-old judoka from the infamous favela Cidade de Deus depicted in the movie City of God. She was introduced tojudo at the age of seven and despite racism and the stigma of coming from a slum, Silva made history as the first Brazilian woman to ever win a gold medal for her country in a World Judo Championship after defeating Marti Malloy of the United States in the final. Silva then went on to dominate Mongolian Dorjsürengiin Sumiya at the Rio games.
Ibtihaj Muhammad of the United States
Election season in the United States has been a tragicomedy of staggering proportions. Islamaphobia rules the headlines everywhere and is insiduous across the globe. Enter Ibtihaj Muhammad, an American sabre fencer and member of the United States fencing team. She’s credited as the first Muslim-American woman to compete on the United States Olympic Team. Although she bowed out to Cecilia Berder of France in the second round in the Women’s Individual Sabre, she’s sure to continue making headlines. Her clothing line “Louella”, which she established with her siblings, aims to bring hijabi fashion to the United States market. Muhammad is also a sports ambassador, serving on the U.S. Department of State’s Empowering Women and Girls Through Sport Initiative.
Janine van Wyk
Janine van Wyk is a South African women’s footballer and plays as a defender. Van Wyk made her national team debut in 2005 against Nigeria in the African Women’s Championship scoring the only goal in the match – a remarkable free kick. Her goal secured Banyana Banyana’s first ever recorded win over Nigeria since the team’s formation in 1993. On 28 March 2016, she became South Africa’s most capped player (male or female) when she made her 125th appearance against Cameroon. This will be her second time representing South Africa at the Olympics.
Yusra Mardini of the Team of Refugee Olympic Athletes
Prior to the war in Syria, Yusra was a competitive swimmer who represented Syria in international competitions. As the war intensified, Yusra and her sister left Damascus in early August 2015 and reached Berlin in September 2015. The 18-year-old is one of 10 athletes in the Olympic Refugee Team. In a show of solidarity with the displaced people of the world, 2016’s Rio Olympics has a team comprised entirely of displaced people.
Nicola Adams MBE of Great Britain
The champ is here. Meet the first woman to win an Olympic boxing title. The gold medal winner at flyweight at the 2012 Summer Olympics held in London, as of May 27 2016 she is the reigning Olympic, World, Commonwealth Games and European Games champion at flyweight. She was the first ever female boxing champion at both the Olympic and Commonwealth Games. Adams was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to boxing.
Mokgadi Caster Semenya of South Africa
Caster Semenya is a South African middle-distance runner and world champion. Subjected to ridicule, gender testing and scrutiny that damn-near violates her human rights and privacy; Semenya has shown herself to have an unquestionable talent and a self-assuredness that is inspiring. Following her victory at the 2009 World Championships, it was announced that she had been subjected to gender testing. Semenya was withdrawn from international competition until 6 July 2010 when the IAAF cleared her to return to competition. In 2010, New Statesman included Semenya in a list of “50 People That Matter 2010”. Whatever the outcome of the games, Semenya keeps meeting and exceeding expectations.