We’re kicking off Black History Month with a list of aspirational black female athletes whosuccessfully wowed the world with their spunk, spirit, and exceptional skills. There are of course way too many to mention. But we’re listing down the ones that made history in their respective sports. Despite the obstacles, these women were able to pave the way for younger athletes to dream and excel in whatever athletic endeavor they chose. These women’s victories are worth celebrating. Here’s a list of the black female athletes you should know about.
This list wouldn’t be complete without the mention of Alice Coachman. Although this list isn’t ranked, we’re putting her first on this one as she was the first ever female athlete of African descent to win an Olympic gold medal. Her specialty was in high jumps and she pursued her athletic career despite the discrimination she faced against her race and gender during her time. She was known to train barefoot on her own using makeshift equipment. Despite all those obstacles, she proceeded on to becoming the first African American woman to ever endorse an international product.
Olympic runner Wilma Rudolph was hailed as the fastest woman on earth during the 60s. When she joined the 1960 Olympics in Rome, she bagged three track and field gold medals which made her the first ever American woman to do so in a single Olympic event. The feat propelled her towards international fame and was then named as the Woman Athlete of the Year by Associated Press two years in a row, in 1960 and 1961.
Her graceful running style earned her the nickname “Black Gazelle”. But things didn’t always start out easy for Wilma. At the age of four, she was diagnosed with scarlet fever, double-pneumonia, and polio. She was made to wear leg braces as a young girl and was told that she may never walk again. Thankfully, she was able to overcome those struggles and lived long to become one of the most accomplished athletes in history.
Debi Thomas is a world-class figure skater who grabbed everyone’s attention by wearing the controversial black unitard during the 1988 Winter Olympics. Considered as an unconventional choice during her time, Debi’s costume pushed the International Skating Union judges to ban female skaters’ costumes without skirts temporarily. Before that, Thomas had already proven herself to be a topnotch skater when she became an Olmypic bronze medalist, two-time US champion, and World champion in 1984. In 2000, she was inducted into the US Figure Skating Hall of Fame. Upon her retirement, Debi Thomas proceeded to becoming an orthopedic surgeon.
Sheryl Swoopes was the first-ever player signed to the WNBA. She’s often referred to as the female equivalent of Michael Jordan - and for good reason. She has bagged three Olympic gold medals and remains relevant on every top WNBA player list. While playing for the Houston Comets, Sheryl received three WNBA MVP awards and became the WNBA champ four times. Finally, she was also the first woman basketball player to have a shoe named after her. If that doesn’t mark your true success as a baller, then I don’t know what will.
As you would’ve guessed from her last name, Laila is Muhammad Ali’s daughter. Sure, being an offspring of the boxing legend can put so much pressure on you as a boxer, but Laila Ali was able to prove that she was also a legend in her own right. Laila was the first female boxer to headline a pay-per-view boxing event when she was just 23 years old. In 2002 and 2005, she became Super Middleweight Champion. She was an undefeated World Champion Boxer with 21 knockouts and a record of 24-0 before her retirement in 2007.
Simone Biles rose to international fame during her participation in the 2016 Rio Olympics. She became the most decorated American gymnast of all time, including all male and female contenders. She has bagged one Olympic bronze medal and four gold ones. To further demonstrate her dominance in gymnastics, she was able to land the Cheng vault flawlessly in 2018. To put things in perspective, the Cheng vault is known to be one of the most difficult vaults to perform and is usually done by men.
These women are just some of the best ones in their respective fields. A lot of female athletes of various ethnicities and nationalities have managed to achieve and proven so much despite the hurdles they faced. If we were to create a comprehensive list, the list would go on and on. However, we believe these women deserve a highlight. May this list inpsire you to become the best version of yourself yet. We believe that the right motivation and enough determination can propel you further to great heights. Pair it with a healthy lifestyle and the right diet, exercise, and supplements and you’ll be on your way.