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18 Black Women Olympians Who Have Kicked Ass On Team USA

From tennis to track to bobsled, black women Olympians have been breaking records — and barriers.

Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

At this year's summer Olympics in Rio, Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas are poised to serve up some serious competition in gymnastics. Lia Neal and Simone Manuel are making history as the first black women duo on the Olympic swim team. Venus and Serena need no introduction (or last name).

They are shining stars in a world that doesn't often shout out black women's achievements. But we been here, showing up and showing out.

Here's just a handful of the black American women who have competed at the Olympics throughout history, kicking ass and taking names the whole time.

1. Alice Coachman

/ AP

Pictured here on the winner's section of the Olympic podium at Wembley Stadium in the United Kingdom, Alice Coachman was the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal. On August 7, 1948, the track and field athlete earned the gold for winning the women's high jump.

2. Wilma Rudolph


Wilma Rudolph, once referred to as the "Fastest Woman In The World," became the first woman to win three track and field gold medals in one Olympics. During the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, she won gold medals for the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints–and brought the US a gold for the 4x100-meter relay.

3. Willye White


Willye White was the first-ever 5-time US track Olympian. She competed in every single Olympics between 1956 and 1972, winning a silver medal for the long-jump in 1956 and another silver in 1964 for the 4x100-meter relay.

4. Florence Griffith-Joyner

Eric Risberg / AP

Florence Griffith Joyner, pictured above as she wins the women's 100-meters final at the Seoul Olympics in 1988, won three gold medals in track and field that year. Known most often as "FloJo," she stood out both for her incredible speed and for her notable fashion sense.

5. Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Deither Endlicher / AP

Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Griffith-Joyner's sister in law, has also has three gold medals to her name. Frequently regarded as the best all-around female athlete in history, Joyner-Kersee holds records in the heptathlon, long jump, and 50-meter hurdles. The retired athlete will be in Rio this year.

6. Zina Garrison

Rusty Kennedy / AP

Zina Garrison took home the Olympic gold in women's tennis doubles with Pam Shriver in 1988. Twenty years later, she served as coach of the 2008 women's Olympic tennis teams.

7. Debi Thomas

Massimo Sambucetti / AP

In 1988, Debi Thomas made history by being the first black athlete to win a medal at the Winter Olympics. The figure skater was on the cover of TIME's February 1988 issue.

8. Maritza Correia

Matt Sayles / AP

In 2004, Maritza Correia became the first Puerto Rican of African descent to be on the USA Olympic swim team–and the first black American swimmer to set a long-course American and World record.

9. Dominique Dawes

Amy Sancetta / AP

Before Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas, there was Dominique Dawes. Dawes, one of incredibly few black gymnasts, earned a medal at each of her three Olympics and four overall.

10. Dawn Staley

Michael Conroy / AP

Dawn Staley served as point guard for three Olympic women's basketball teams, earning a gold medal each time. The hall of fame player now serves as coach of the University of South Carolina's women's basketball team.

11. Lisa Leslie


Lisa Leslie, of the Los Angeles Sparks, has competed on four Olympic women's basketball teams. She won the gold with the team every Olympics from 1996 to 2008.

12. Serena Williams

Luis Acosta / AFP / Getty Images

Duh. Serena Williams, America's greatest athlete, is pictured here with the gold medal she won in 2012 after defeating Maria Sharapova in the women's singles gold medal match of the London 2012 Olympic Games. To date, Serena has earned four gold medals.

13. Venus Williams

Jewel Samad / Getty
Jewel Samad / Getty

...Of course. The tennis superstar known as Venus Williams has four gold medals–tied with her sister, with whom she won three as a doubles team. At the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, she took home the gold in both singles and doubles matches.

14. Vonetta Flowers

Darron Cummings / AP

Vonetta Flowers, the first black athlete to win a gold medal for the bobsled, is pictured here with her teammate Jill Bakken. The two took home the gold in 2002.

15. Simone Manuel


Simone Manuel, a swimmer at Stanford, qualified to compete on the US Olympic 4 X 100 freestyle team. Manuel is a two-time NCAA champion, and will compete in Rio with her good friend and Stanford teammate...

16. Lia Neal

Andy King / AP

Lia Neal, another Stanford swimmer, is also headed to the Olympics this year to compete on the US Olympic 4 X 100 freestyle team. She took home the bronze medal at 2012's summer Olympics in London.

17. Gabby Douglas

Julie Jacobson / AP

Gabby Douglas not only won the individual all-around title but led her team (the "Fierce Five") to a gold medal in 2012. She's the first woman of color to accomplish both feats, and she'll be competing again in Rio.

18. Simone Biles

Ben Margot / AP

Simone Biles has been called the "new star of American gymnastics." She'll be headed to her first Olympic games this year, but the phenom has already achieved 10 titles in three world championships appearances.

Mollie Shafer-Schweig / Via BuzzFeed

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