It’s no secret that Olympians are the best among us. They train hard to be the fastest, strongest, and the most agile, and they’ve succeeded. Anyone who has made it to the Olympics has already proved that they’re miles ahead of the rest of us. We mortals sit on the couch in our stars & stripes sweatpants in awe of the human body and the way Olympic athletes have control over theirs. It’s what brings us back to the tv every time, yelling and cheering for these humans that complete superhuman acts with ease.
American women athletes are having a real moment at the summer Olympics this year. Truth be told, they have a real moment every single Olympics when they medal right alongside the men without blinking an eye, but it’s women who are breaking records and making history in the great country of Rio de Janiero. Here are five American women athletes who are *doing the most* at the games this year:
1. Katie Ledecky
Katie swam to earn 5 medals in these Olympics. She earned three individual golds, for the 200m, 400m, and 800m freestyle, along with a gold for the 4×200 relay, and a silver for the 4×100 relay. She’s the world record holder in the 400m, 800m, and 1,500m freestyles. Katie doesn’t mess around. She’s 19 years old and she came out of the woodwork at the 2012 trials to earn a spot at the U.S training camp, racing in the London summer Olympics as the youngest athlete in the American delegation. Katie won the gold medal in the 800m free that year and she came back to do it again this year, no matter who she took down on the way. Sports Illustrated reports that when told that the men she beats in practice seem to dwell on their losses, Katie replied “So what. I don’t care. I’m not going to stop”. That’s our kind of woman.
2. Simone Biles
On Thursday afternoon, Simone fought her way to the top, winning the gold medal in the Women’s All-Around final. With this gold, she continued her incredible streak of winning every single all-around competition she’s entered in the past three years. She beat teammate Ally Raisman by 2.1 points, a margin of victory more than 10x the average win between 1972 and 2012, reports Wall Street Journal’s Ben Cohen. Simone also won gold for Women’s Floor Exercise, Women’s Vault, and the Team All-Around, and bronze for Women’s Beam. She wasn’t messing around with her Olympic debut. Additionally, Simone proved to us this week that she’s a champion in standing up for herself and the people she loves. After NBC Olympics commentator Al Trautwig refused to acknowledge her adoptive parents as her parents, she helped to clear up this common adoption misconception by saying “I personally don’t have a comment. My parents are my parents and that’s it.” We love a woman who gets right to the point.
3. Lilly King
Lilly earned a top spot on the podium Monday evening after swimming for gold in the 100m breaststroke. First and foremost, she’s an animal in the pool. But we put Lilly on this list more for her willingness to be an animal in the sport of throwing shade too. Sunday night, Lilly was asked about the finger shaking that both she and Russian rival Yulia Efimova did towards each other between heats of their 100m semi-finals that evening, to which Lilly replied, “You’re shaking your finger No. 1 and you’ve been caught for drug cheating; I’m just not a fan. I’m going to go swim my heart out for the USA and hopefully that turns out the best.” Efimova, caught twice for doping in the past, but cleared to race in these games, teared up in a press conference about Sunday’s race and when Lilly was asked if those tears affected her, she simply stated, “You know, I am not an emotional person.” Lilly has her convictions about drug doping and we appreciate that she stands by them.
4. Ibtihaj Muhammad
Regardless of medals, Ibtihaj has already made history by being the first American to compete at the Olympics in a hijab. She stepped to the en garde line Monday morning knowing that win or lose, she would still be a household name for breaking this ground. Sadly, Ibtihaj lost and is out of the individual games at this point, but she reminded herself and the world that “…this moment is bigger than me.” She’s represented Islam at a time when religious tensions are high in America and around the world, and she’s determined to show that religion doesn’t entirely define a person. Ibtihaj helped her team win bronze in the Women’s Team Sabre on Saturday, and we loved cheering her on, hijab and all.
5. Morolake Akinosun
Morolake hasn’t run any races in the 2016 Olympics yet, but she’s already killing it because she knew she would. Five years ago, Morolake tweeted “In 2016, I will be 22, graduated from a school I have not chosen yet, and going to the Olympics (:” Five years later, she’s doing exactly that. She reports that at the time of the tweet, the idea of going to the Olympics was more of a dream than a concrete plan, but she worked hard at the University of Illinois and University of Texas, running fast enough at the qualifiers in Eugene, Oregon to earn her a spot in Rio. We appreciate a woman who finds a dream and makes it happen, no matter the outcome of Thursday’s races.