The Summer Olympics are over. It’s hard to believe we’ve been through four years of waiting, and they’ve come and gone already. The good news is we won’t forget them anytime soon. To say the least, the Olympics were more than memorable this year: the first Arab woman took gold, one of America’s favorite gymnasts was surprised by Zac Efron, and Ryan turned out to be a tool–starting the infamous “LochteGate,” which as K.Dot points out, should’ve been “LochMess.”
— K.Dot (@kjbas) August 18, 2016
Beyond all of the hype and goofiness, serious athletes and Olympians’ hard work and training paid off big time. People, brands, media swirled around the success and joy of this year’s Olympics. But one thing stood out to me in particular: The Sports Illustrated cover that read “The Greatests” with three Olympians pictured.
The mom in me, of course, thinks all Olympians are one of the “Greatests.” And technically, literally the definition of an Olympian is the best of the best, meaning they truly are the greatest among us normal folk laying on the sofa eating chips and criticizing their performance. Although, to be fair, it’s not just about earning a participation ribbon either.
When I say I think there are numerous other greats that should be included in this magazine’s headline nod, it’s because the definition behind being one the greatests isn’t just about earning the most medals. Other men and women broke stereotypes, created firsts and shattered records that, with or without gold, make them some of the greatests, too.
This is a list of some of the Olympics other “Greatests” and why their attributions are a big deal:
The Pierre de Coubertin winners, runners Abbey D’Agostino (America) and Nikki Hamblin (New Zealand). This highly unusual award–previously only rewarded 17 times–was given to Abbey and Nikki for displaying an outstanding act of sportsmanship. The two were 2000 meters from finishing the 5000 meter race when Nikki ran into Abbey, taking them both down. Abbey encouraged Nikki to get back up but ended up being hurt herself. They pushed each other to finish the race together, showing one of the greatest forms of sportsmanship there is.
Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin. These talented women swept an Olympic track event, taking gold, silver and bronze and were the first American women to ever do it. That’s pretty damn great.
Nia Ali. Nia is the greatest for holding her baby up for the women (and men) in the world to see: anything is possible. Yes, you can be a mom and have a passion. Succeeding is possible.
Kristin Armstrong. She finished her race, made sure she won gold (asking those around her) and then collapsed on the ground from pure exhaustion. She’s a 43-year-old woman who’s had multiple hip surgeries since 2012, and she won gold. Serious props to her.
Simone Manuel. On August 11, she became the first black woman to earn a gold medal in individual swimming. She broke an amazing barrier and created a historical moment that is beyond worthy of the greatests.
Daryl Homer. This sabre fencer brought some attention back home to America when he took home a medal in his event, giving America their first win in this sabre fencing in 112 years.
Ibtihaj Muhammad. This Olympic fencer blew stereotypes away when she became the first American athlete to compete while wearing a hijab. Pretty freakin’ great.
Michelle Carter. Competing in the shot put event, she became the first American woman to take home gold in shot put. The greatest American women in shot put right here.
Allyson Felix. She’s the most decorated Olympic runner and set a world record for most medals won, earning her sixth in track in field this year. This makes her one of the greatest in the entire world.
Fu Yuanhui. Although she wouldn’t be featured as one of America’s greatest, considering she’s a Chinese swimmer, so many woman are still beyond thankful she’s broken the [gasp] period barrier. After finishing a race, she mentioned being weak to a reporter because she was on her period. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s one of the greatest things to happen for women in general.
Helen Maroulis. Helen claimed the very first gold medal for America in women’s wrestling. She openly talks about the sacrifices she made to get to where she’s at in wrestling, and guess what… it’s pretty great.
Usain Bolt. Again, not necessarily America’s greatest, but definitely one of the greatest for being the fastest man in the world… but mostly also for taking the greatest photo of the entire 2016 Olympics. Bring on the memes, people.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) August 18, 2016
Who do you have to add to the list of the greatests?