Female Olympians: Breaking Gender Barriers One Competition At A Time

Sports are one sector that women and men from Africa have dominated for years. Recently, many female athletes from around the world have been fighting for equal pay and for gender equality overall in their sport. Getting girls involved in sports from a young age is one way to help end gender inequality. Research shows that girls who participate in sports are healthier, more confident, do better in school, and are more social. Next summer the 2020 Summer Olympics will be held in Tokyo. Many African women have competed in international competitions for sport. In honor of next year’s event, and in keeping with this week’s theme of gender equality, we wanted to highlight five incredible female African Olympians and their achievements. 

1) Maria Lourdes Mutola- Mozambique

Also called the “Maputo Express”, Mutola has competed in 6 Olympic Games. She is the first and only Mozambican athlete in history to win an Olympic gold medal title. She is also the only athlete in history to have won four world or Olympic titles over 800 meters.

2) Kirsty Leigh Coventry- Zimbabwe

Kirsty is one of the world’s top backstroke and medley swimmers. She has competed in 5 Olympic Games. As a country Zimbabwe has won 8 Olympic medals. Kirsty has won a total of 7 of these 8 medals. This is why some have called her a “national treasure”.

3) Tirunesh Dibaba- Ethiopia

Tirunesh is a cross-country runner. She is the youngest female world champion in the history of athletics. Competing in 6 Olympic Games, she has also won 6 medals. She was also the first woman worldwide to win the Olympic 5000m/10000m double in Beijing.

4) Françoise Mbango Etone- Cameroon

Françoise is a Cameroonian athlete who specialized in the triple jump. She is the first and only Cameroonian individual athlete to have won an Olympic Gold medalist title. She now has two gold medals from two separate Olympic appearances

5) Caster Semenya- South Africa

Caster is most known for her 800m races. She has two Olympic gold medals, 3 World Championship gold medals, 2 gold medals from the Commonwealth Games, and 5 gold medals from African Championships. Sadly, her career has been plagued with controversy due to the fact that she is intersex.

Meghan O'Neil


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