By Nomali Cele
The Rio summer 2016 games are happening during Women’s Month, the perfect excuse to introduce you to some of the top women in sport in the world today!
Caster Semenya, Athletics
by Stu Forster/Getty Images
Mokgadi Caster Semenya is no stranger to South Africans who have even the faintest interest in current affairs. The middle-distance runner was thrust into the spotlight in 2009 after she won gold at the World Championships. Semenya’s celebrations were cut short by prejudice and suspicion – this culminated in the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) doing gender tests on her.
The IAAF found that Semenya had elevated natural testosterone levels but did not disqualify her from participating in the women’s categories (they did, however, insist she “normalise” her testosterone levels but that has since fallen away). Semenya is an excellent, high performing athlete, and we are rooting for her! It is rather unfair that along with the mental stresses of “getting one’s head in the game” she also has to deal with public opinion and ignorance.
Serena Williams, Tennis
by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images
Serena Williams is the queen of the court. She is one of the best athletes this Earth has seen, world number one and the highest-earning woman in sport. 2015 was known as “Serena Slam,” where Williams went unbeaten at three of the four tennis majors but fell short at the US open. In July of 2016, Williams won her 22nd grand slam title – tying for the record with Steffi Graf. Later that day, she and her sister Venus Williams, another amazing woman in tennis, won their 14th doubles grand slam title.
Nicola Adams, Boxing
by Kyte Photography
Going into Rio 2016, Nicola Adams is aiming to defend her the gold title that she won at the 2012 games in London. She is also the Commonwealth Games, European Games and World Champions flyweight boxing champion. One of the top boxing talents in Britain, and certainly one of Britain’s history makers in the sport.
For London 2012, women boxers were allowed to take part for the first time and Adams came out victorious in her weight class.
Simone Manuel, Swimming
On August 11, Simone Manuel made history in Rio. The 20-year-old America became the first black woman to win an individual medal at the games for swimming. She’s the first American woman to win the honour since 1984. Did we mention it was a gold medal? While the gold and her record-breaking performance – which she shares with Canadian Penny Oleksiak – put Manuel in popular consciousness, she has been making strides in the swimming for years now.