As an 8th Degree Black Belt in Karate, I often found it hard to find my role models in a male dominated sport. I was interviewed for an award once, and told the reporter, my amazingly strong mother was my best role model. The past 10 days have given us some great female role models for the young women and girls in the United States. Do you want to know what hard work, focus and determination can give you? Take a look at these outstanding Gold Medal examples!
Kristin Armstrong is an elite cyclist. She was a junior Olympian swimmer, a distance runner and a triathlete. At the age of 27, she was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in both hips and decided to end her running and focus on cycling. Her journey as an elite cyclist took her to the 2004 Olympics in Athens, the 2008 Olympics in China where she won the Gold Medal in her division. She then repeated this in the 2012 Olympics in London and won another individual Gold. At age 43, in Rio, she again won the Gold.
Kayla Harrison is our country’s top female Judo athlete. She stunned the world at age 22, in the 2012 Olympics in London, by becoming the first American ever (male or female) to win a Gold Medal in Judo. Kayla started Judo at the age of 6. Kayla, herself a victim of child sexual abuse has used her notoriety to put a voice to the dark subject. She formed the Fearless Foundation to call attention to this issue. Kayla returned this past week, to the 2016 Olympics in Rio and again took the Gold.
Michelle Carter became the first woman in U.S. Olympic history to win a Gold Medal in the Shot Put. This week, in Rio, the 30 year old defeated a two time Olympic Gold medalist from New Zealand to take the title for the Team USA. Michelle’s father Michael won a silver medal in the same event in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
Katie Ledecky at age 19 became one of the most decorated athletes in the Rio Games. She entered the 2012 Olympic games as a swimmer in London and won her first Gold medal at the age of 15. In this year’s games she won 5 Gold and 1 Silver medals. She currently holds multiple world records. She began swimming at the age of 6 with her brother.
Simone Biles, 19, a petite 4 foot 9 inch gymnast helped team USA to win the Gold this week in Rio. She then continued on in the Olympics to also win the individual Gold as well. Simone became interested in gymnastics at an early age after a daycare field trip to a gymnastics gym. Simone was lucky to have supportive grandparents who adopted her at the age of 6, when it appeared her biological mother was not able to give her the best care.
There are so many more of these great stories in the United States. This has just been an exciting week to watch female athletes excel and to know that the young girls in our country are being given great examples of women to emulate.