9 Things Black Women Did To Close Out The Olympics That Made Us Proud
With 121 medals earned, 54 more than Great Britain, which came in second in the medal count, it’s safe to say that the U.S. pretty much dominated the Olympics in Rio. Many of those gold medals were earned by Black women who broke records and made history along the way. And watching them do big things, from saying “Black Girls Rock” while collecting their gold medals on the podium, to embracing one another as a sisterhood, and even showing the world the diversity in Black beauty and Black bodies, their success could literally bring tears of joy to your eyes. And at a time in this country when we’re often left feeling much less than respected, shining on the main stage was something all of us needed to witness to be encouraged, and to be reminded that anything is possible when you put your mind to it.
Claressa Shields Becomes One of the Greatest Boxers Ever
Flint, Michigan’s own Claressa Shields made some major history this past weekend. After beating the Netherlands Nouchka Fontijn in the women’s middleweight division final with a unanimous decision, Shields became the first U.S. boxer, man or woman, to take home two Olympic gold medals. It’s a major feat for a woman who grew up in poverty and moved around more than a dozen times growing up. She won her first gold in 2012 and brought it out as she stood on the podium to collect her second one. “I wanted to let it be known that I’m not just a great female boxer, but I’m one of the great boxers to ever live,” Shields said, according to The Huffington Post. “I’m the first American to be a two-time Olympic gold medalist.”
Dalilah Muhammad Overcomes Injuries to Win Gold
Another history maker, Dalilah Muhammad of Jamaica, Queens, here in New York City, made history by becoming the first American woman to win gold in the 400-meter hurdles. She was able to overcome light rain and two years of trying to come back from injuries to outpace her competition on Thursday. As she told reporters, “This means so much; I’ve been working so hard for this,” she said, according to USA Today. “The last two years haven’t been the best but to finally be where I’m supposed to be at the right time, and I’m so happy about that.”
Women’s 4×100 Relay Team Makes Quite the Comeback
It could have ended terribly for the USA women’s 4×100 relay team. On Thursday, a member of Brazil’s relay team accidentally made contact with U.S. member Allyson Felix, who ended up dropping the baton. However, they managed to go forward and finish the race and afterward, appealed for a chance to appear in the final on Friday. After replays showed the bump, the Brazilian team was disqualified and the U.S. team was given a second chance to qualify. They did a solo re-run and earned the second-fastest time to advance.
And the ladies, including Felix, Tianna Bartoletta, English Gardner and Tori Bowie, didn’t disappoint in the final. They were able to hold back Jamaica to become the first American relay team to win back-to-back gold since the U.S. team won titles in 1992 and 1996. Speaking on coming back from a near disqualification to win gold, Felix told reporters, “I think yesterday proved that you never know what you’re going to get but sometimes adversity makes you stronger,” Felix said, according to Sports Illustrated. “We’ve each had a rocky road here with different journeys and a unique experience. We just came together and wanted to keep going.”
Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin Sweep 100-Meter Hurdles
While accepting her gold medal for winning the 100-meter hurdle race, Brianna Rollins made sure to let the world know that “Black Girls Rock” while saying it out loud in front of the cameras. As she stood next to her teammates, who also clinched silver and bronze, it was quite evident that she was telling the truth. Rollins led the way as Nia Ali clinched silver and Kristi Castlin, with an amazing lean, was able to take home bronze. It was the first sweep by any country in the 100-meter hurdles. As she told reporters, according to Reuters, “I think that it’s just very good to be a part of this whole black girl magic movement,” she said. “We actually came into this not as individuals but as a team. We work together, we pray together and that is how we got this job done.”
It’s Another Gold for Simone Biles
In her last competition of the Rio Olympics, Simone Biles dazzled during floor exercises. With a near-perfect score of 15.966 after sticking her signature move, The Biles, she took home gold while American teammate Aly Raisman won silver. She took home five medals in total, four of them being gold. That puts her in an exclusive club with just three other legendary gymnasts who managed to take home four gold medals in a single Olympics. She’s the only American to have done it. Her success was likely the reason the superstar was chosen to hold the American flag and represent our country during the closing ceremony.
Get to Know More About Gold, Silver and Bronze Medalist Tori Bowie
As People pointed out, Tori Bowie was once focused on the long jump, but after going through some disappointment and choosing to move from the field to the track, Bowie wounded up doing some amazing things in Rio. As a member of the previously mentioned women’s 4×100 women’s relay team, Bowie won gold. In the 100-meter race, she won silver. And in the 200-meter race, she won bronze. At only 25 and in her first Olympics, you can expect the Rankin County, Mississippi native to make even bigger waves in Tokyo in 2020. Until then: “I’m going to take some time off and basically recover,” she told People. “But I’ll still work on my nutrition and basic things to make me stronger. Then I’ll start training again in November.”
Tianna Bartoletta Dominates Both Track and Field
Another name I felt it important for you to know more about is that of Tianna Bartoletta. The 30-year-old Elyria, Ohio native won two golds in Rio, snatching medals for both track and field competitions. She was able to beat out fellow American Brittney Reese, the London 2012 gold medalist in the long jump, by two centimeters, jumping a whopping 7.17 meters. And as part of the women’s 4×100 relay, specifically running the very first leg of the race, Bartoletta earned her second gold medal. Bow down to Bartoletta!
Allyson Felix Makes Even More History
By winning gold with the women’s 4×100 relay team, along with the 4×400 team (shout out to Courtney Okolo, Natasha Hastings and Phyllis Francis), Felix became the first woman athlete to have five gold medals, and also the most decorated American female track and field athlete ever (she’s tied with Jamaica’s Merlene Ottey for most decorated woman track and field athlete ever with nine medals). It was the perfect end to Felix’s Rio Olympics, helping her earn two golds after missing out on one in the controversial 400-meter relay.
Alisha Glass Leads Team USA Volleyball to Bronze
While they weren’t able to fight for gold in the final after losing to Serbia in the semifinals, setter Alisha Glass was able to help push an explosive Team USA to win bronze against the Netherlands in the final bronze medal match. The 6’0″ Leland, Michigan native and Penn State grad said about her Rio success, “I love this team, love this moment, love the journey!”