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13 Awe-Inspiring Female Athletes Competing In Rio

These Olympic games are for every aspiring female athlete out there.

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The Rio Olympics have already seen record levels of participation by women: 45% of registered athletes are women. This is dedicated to 13 incredible female athletes to watch out for...

1. These Olympics are for Gaurika Singh, a swimmer from Nepal and the youngest athlete at the games.

Al Bello / Getty Images

Singh, who's just 13 years old, swam ferociously to earn the title of World Champion in Kazan, Russia, in July of 2015. Just three months later she would find herself hiding underneath a table to survive a massive earthquake that shook Nepal and killed almost 8,000 people. She was nominated as good-will ambassador for Nepal after donating part of her championship winnings to NGOs dedicated to education.


2. These Olympics are for Brazilian judo fighter Rafaela Silva.

Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters

In 2012, Silva was disqualified from competition for using an illegal hold and returned home to face racist attacks on social media. Four years later, she demolished the competition she had previously faced in London, and secured Brazil's first gold medal at the 2016 Olympic games.

3. These Olympics are also for Yusra Mardini, swimmer and refugee hero.

Ker Robertson / Getty Images

Mardini was one of 10 refugee athletes selected to be in the Olympics. In 2015, when it seemed as though the boat from Syria she was on was about to sink, she and her sister pushed the 20-person vessel for 3 and 1/2 hours before successfully reaching the Greek island of Lesbos. She took gold in swimming on Saturday.

4. These Olympics are for tiny Brazilian gymnastics hero, Flavinha Saraiva.

Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

At just 4’4", Saraiva made her debut as the face of the Brazilian gymnastics team. After winning over Brazil with her charm and grace, she also managed to win over the judges at the Rio games, who awarded her high marks on the beam. Ultimately, Saraiva ended up two places behind the Americans, who were the experienced favorites this year. Nevertheless, she continues to be a powerhouse for Brazil.

5. They're for Oksana Chusovitina, a 41-year-old gymnastics legend from Uzbekistan.

Dylan Martinez / Reuters

Chusovitina confirmed that she would be retiring after these Olympics. Don’t take her word for it though, since she’s “retired” twice now, most recently after the 2012 London games. Her passion for her sport keeps her coming back for more.

6. They are for Cristiane, the all-time leading scorer in soccer – among both men and women.

Harry How / Getty Images

Cristiane has earned her place among the legends of soccer with 14 career goals in Olympic matches. Her most recent was one of the five goals that Brazil scored against Sweden in the opener.


7. These Olympics are for gymnasts Lee Eun-ju, from South Korea, and Hong Un Jong, from North Korea.

Dylan Martinez / Reuters

Lee, who is 17 years old, is competing in her first Olympic games. Hong is already a veteran gymnast. She won North Korea's first medal in gymnastics at the Beijing games in 2008, taking home the gold for her performance on the vault. The pair bonded despite country lines and even took a selfie together.

8. And for gymnast Rebeca Andrade, who at just 17 years old has achieved diva status in her home country of Brazil.

David Ramos / Getty Images

At the beginning of 2016, Andrade was still recovering from a ruptured ACL and it wasn't clear if she would make it to the Rio games at all. However, she never gave up, and she competed on Saturday with a floor routine inspired by Beyoncé, stunning the crowd and earning her a spot in the finals.

9. These Olympics are for Egyptian volleyball players Nada Meawad and Doaa Elghobashy.

Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP / Getty Images

The Egyptian players said that they were very excited to be playing against the Germans on Sunday, though they went on to lose 2 sets to 0. Both athletes played in full pants and long sleeves, and Doaa Elghobashy chose to compete wearing a hijab. “I have worn the hijab for 10 years," Elghobashy told the Associated Press. "It doesn’t keep me away from the things I love to do, and beach volleyball is one of them.”

10. For Brazilian handball player Ana Paula Belo.

Franck Fife / AFP / Getty Images

The Brazilian women's handball team defeated Norway in their debut thanks to the effort — and 10 goals — made by Ana Paula Belo. Off the field, she has been a major critic of professional handball in Brazil, which is one of the top competitors in the sport in the world, but has a hard time incentivizing young players to compete due to lack of sponsorships and support.

11. These Olympics are for judo fighter Majlinda Kelmendii, from Kosovo, a country that's never been represented before now.

Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

In 2014, Kelmendii competed at the Russian world finals under the "independent countries" flag, since Russia doesn't recognize Kosovo as a country. At the 2012 games, she competed under the Albanian flag. This year, for the first time ever, she earned gold for her home country of Kosovo. She’s dedicated her medal to the kids in her country who see her as a hero.

12. And for Marta, the best soccer player in Brazil.

Harry How / Getty Images

Marta is the highest scoring player in the history of Brazilian soccer. She’s even scored more goals than soccer icon Pelé. Marta scored two of the five goals that helped Brazil secure a win against Sweden on Saturday, while the crowd cheered "Marta's better than Neymar!"

13. And these Olympics are for Miri Al-Atrash, from Palestine, where there are no Olympic-sized pool to train in.

Thomas Coex / AFP / Getty Images

Palestine is sending six athletes to the Olympics this year, their largest delegation ever, and two of them have never even been to the state they’re representing. Miri Al-Atrash — from Bethlehem, where there are no Olympic-sized pools — is trying to bring the gold home to Palestine. Because of Palestine’s lack of facilities, Miri Al-Atash was forced to travel to Jordan and Algeria to train. (She was not given permission to train in Israel.)


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