With another Olympic games out of the way this summer, it’s only natural that the greatest sportsmen and women in the world are on our mind; not only do they possess the physical abilities that many of us can only dream of, but they’re also the kind of mentally and emotionally resilient people that could teach the rest of us a thing or two about how we go through life.
Thouh being a female athlete in 2016 is far easier than it was just a few generations ago and athletes are recognised for their abilities regardless of gender, it’s not yet a non-issue. You need only look at the by now infamous headline from the Bryan-College Station Eagle – while American swimmer Katie Ledecky set a new world record and bagged gold in the women’s 800m freestyle final, it was Michael Phelps’ silver medal that won the headline.
That’s why we think it’s important to celebrate some of the most inspiring female Olympians past and present, who have scored medals, broken records and challenged stereotypes to help make the world a better place!
One of the Olympians on our list is famous from their heyday several decades ago, which only makes her accomplishments more impressive; the world of sport and athletics is much more progressive these days than it was even 20 or 30 years ago.
Sally Gunnell, gold medal in the 400m hurdles
Sally Gunnell is perhaps one of the most recognisable faces in British athletics, in part because she worked as a BBC television presenter, commentating on athletics events for years after she had retired from competition.
It was her personal sporting prowess, however, that propelled her into that position in the first place. After flirting with several different disciplines including the heptathlon and the 100m hurdles, she settled into her groove with the 400m hurdles event in 1987.
As well as winning gold at the Olympic games in 1992 in Barcelona, Sally went on to smash the world record in 1993 at the World Championships in Stuttgart. To this day, she remains the only woman to have won the European, World, Olympic and Commonwealth titles in the 400m hurdles event.
Inspiring women make a brilliant choice of celebrity guest for any event with a predominantly female audience; they can translate their experiences in the world of sport or show business into take-away advice for everyday living. If you’re thinking of booking a strong female athlete as a motivational speaker then the Sally Gunnell agent is London based celebrity agency MN2S and she’s a well known and well respected individual who’s sure to make a real impact.
Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hosking, gold medal in the lightweight double sculls
When Katherine and Sophie scored their gold at the London Olympics in 2012, it was perhaps all the sweeter for being unexpected. They were just two of the Brits to win medals on so-called Super Saturday, but they hadn’t been tipped for gold, so it was a surprise for all involved when they crossed the finish line two seconds ahead of their nearest rivals.
The pair had only recently started rowing together when they made their Olympic debut, and Katherine had even considered ending her competitive rowing career, after a move to London went awry and she found herself feeling severely homesick.
While Hosking has since retired to pursue a career as a solicitor, Katherine Copeland represented the Brits at Rio 2016 – though sadly she didn’t manage to walk away with a medal this time.
One of Britain’s best young talents, Amber Hill managed to finish in sixth place in the Olympic Skeet Shooting discipline at Rio 2016. Though she didn’t earn herself a medal, the talented youngster is just 18, and already has Tokyo 2020 in her sights.
In a career starting at the age of just 14, Amber has already won a gold medal at the European Championships and the BBC’s Young Sports Personality of the Year award. We’d put our money on her as one to watch!