International Women's Day: Women Athletes We Love
This past year was a pivotal one for women in sports. Female race participation, from 5K to marathons, continues to grow, making race distributions more equitable than ever before. But women aren’t just making strides on the track - from snowboarding to ultimate frisbee, rock climbing to tennis, elite, committed women continue to reshape what it means to be a female athlete. Here are just a few of the accomplishments we’d like to highlight from five incredible women in the sports world.
Chloe Kim - Snowboarding
Chloe Kim made waves this year when she became, at 17, the youngest woman to ever win a women’s snowboarding medal when she took half-pipe gold at this year’s Winter Olympics. Most impressively, though she knew she had the gold locked down at the outset of her third run down the half-pipe, instead of phoning it in, she opted to improve on her score to finish as high as possible. And she did it all in the same fashion as many of our Spring members - with one Britney Spears pumping her up in her headphones!
Margo Hayes - Rock Climbing
Early last year, Margo Hayes made rock climbing history when she became the first woman to ascend an elusive 5.15a/9a level climb. This barrier, long considered unsurmountable for women, was demolished when, after months of work, she sent La Rambla in Siurana, Spain. Only a few months later, Hayes then sent Biographie/Realization in France - another 5.15a - and with rumors of her shooting for 2020’s Tokyo Olympics (the first to feature a climbing competition), Hayes is showing no signs of slowing down.
Opi Payne - Ultimate Frisbee
Ultimate frisbee has seen record participation in the past decade, becoming one of the fastest-growing sports in the world. Paving the way for such growth are elite athletes like Opi Payne, who took her team San Francisco Fury to its tenth National Championship in 2017. Her fearless style of play and commitment to ultimate's guiding sportsmanship principles (known as Spirit of the Game), along with her vocal advocacy for gender, race, and class equity in ultimate, make her a phenomenal role model, both on and off the field, for young athletes.
Kathrine Switzer - Running
In 1967, Switzer became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon as a numbered entry. She was jeered, mocked, and an attempt was made to grab her bib and pull her off the course - yet she persisted and completed the race. Fifty years later, at the age of seventy, Switzer took to the Boston streets again, this time in defiance of the supposed limitations of age to high-level distance running. And once again, her crossing the finish line smashed beliefs about what is possible on a marathon course.
Serena Williams - Tennis
Let’s be real - we could fill far more than a single blog post with Serena Williams’ accomplishments on the tennis court. But her most recent international performance, at the 2017 Australian Open, is notable for a number of reasons. Her win there makes her the only player, male or female, to win 10+ grand slam singles titles in two separate decades (10 in the 2000s and 12 in the 2010s). It was also the 10th grand slam title she’d received since her 30th birthday, and it put her at the 316-win record matched only by Roger Federer. On top of all this, she competed pregnant, welcomed a daughter on September 1st of last year and will return to the court today - fittingly, International Women’s Day.
These are just a few of the female athletes we admire, but in all sports and around the globe strides are being made and barriers are being broken by female athletes every day. Today we encourage you to take a moment and think of the women that inspire you. Who will motivate you to get out there on this International Women’s Day?