To say women have come a long way in the sports world, and particularly that of the Olympics would be an understatement. Women actually weren't allowed to participate in the first modern Olympics held in Athens. How far the world has come!
It wasn't until 1900 that the first sports involving women were held at the Games. However, women were only able to participate in two sports: tennis and golf. In 1912, women gained the right to compete in swimming, and in 1928, females finally got the chance to participate in track and field. Unbelievably, it took until 2012 at the London Games for there to be an Olympics program to feature games for both men and women to compete in. The Olympic games are just over two years away, but female athletes from all over the world are gearing up to make the push for qualification to the games in Tokyo. It is a long process and thousands of athletes dedicate their lives to compete just once against the world's best.
From sprinting to beach volleyball, soccer to swimming, there are some amazing female athletes that will descend on Tokyo. The women of the 2020 games won't just be going for gold in their respective sports, but they will be showing the world that women are equal to men on the sporting field, court or track. Usually they are also superior in the looks department, and have us even more excited to see them!
15 Anouk Verge-Depre: Beach Volleyball
Switzerland isn't known as a beach volleyball hotbed. In fact, it produces far more winter Olympians than it does athletes for the summer games. Anouk Verge-Depre and 2016 Olympic partner, Isabelle Forrer, finished ninth in the women's tournament at the Rio Games. However, Verge-Depre has a new teammate, Joana Heidrich, and the pair expect to go further in 2020 beach volleyball tournament in Tokyo. The 6'1" volleyball player cannot be missed when on the beach with her swimmer's build and long blonde hair. Verge-Depre was called the 'hottest volleyball' player at the Rio Olympics. That's a bold statement as women's volleyball is renowned for having gorgeous ladies serving, setting and spiking in the sport. Not only does she have plenty of fans excited to watch her on the sand in Tokyo, but she has a loyal fan base on social media following her every move.
14 Charley Hull: Golf
Great Britain's Charley Hull is one of the nation's top young golfers. She may have finished outside the medals at the 2016 games, but she was merely 20-years old at the time. In Tokyo, Hull will have more experience behind her as she goes for a medal. Hull has been a professional since 2014, and is no stranger to the European golf circuit. She hasn't won an LPGA Tour major yet, but she does have one tour win under her belt. Hull could be one of the best hopes Great Britain have for a medal in Tokyo; but she will have to hold off the South Korean women's team, which is the powerhouse of women's golf. By the time the 2020 Summer Olympics tee off, Hull could be one of the best golfers on the LPGA Tour.
13 Paraskevi Papachristou: Triple Jump And Long Jump
Paraskevi Papachristou turns heads every time she is on the track. The Greek triple jump and long jump expert is known for her bleach blonde hair and chiseled Greek goddess physique. She has only participated in one Olympic games, and that appearance came in Rio in 2016. Despite winning a slew of medals in competitions, Papachristou was unable to medal at the Olympic Games. She could make up for that in Tokyo, but will need to bring her A-game to the Far East. Papachristou hasn't been without her problems in the public eye. In 2012, she was kicked off of the Greek national team ahead of the London Olympics for a racist tweet about African immigrants. Hopefully this time she will stay off of social media, unless it's Instagram!
12 Marta Silva: Soccer
Marta Silva is the most famous women's soccer player today. In fact, she may be the most famous women's player of all-time. Marta has led a storied career, and has played for Brazil in the last four Olympic women's soccer tournaments. She could make it five when the best in the women's game descends on Japan in 2020. At 33, there is no word on whether she will be on the squad, but if Brazil does well at the 2019 World Cup, there is a chance she will be there. The five-time FIFA World Player of the Year has never won an Olympic gold medal. She has obtained silver twice, in 2004 and 2008, but gold has been elusive. Dubbed "Pele in skirts", Marta has changed the perception of women's soccer in Brazil. She has also aged extremely gracefully, and we continue to admire her!
11 Federica Pellegrini: Swimming
Italy's Federica Pellegrini is fast. She holds a world record in the 200m freestyle and holds seven gold medals in the discipline. Pellegrini's most recent 200m gold came in the 2017 World Aquatics Championship. The Italian already has her sights set on the Tokyo games and many expect her to swim away with another gold in her signature competition. If Pellegrini qualifies for the 2020 Games, it will be her fifth Olympics. She is an amazing athlete and has been on top of the 200m freestyle game since she was just 16-years old. She has come a long way since her teenage years, and has become a top sports celebrity in Italy. A number of magazine articles have been devoted to her pasta loving diet, which helps her speed through the water. The 2020 Games could see her claim her eighth gold in the 200m.
10 Allyson Felix: Sprinter
Allyson Felix has claimed 24 career gold medals, and six of those came in Olympic competition. At the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Felix won a gold medal double in the 4x100m and 4x400m relay races. She also claimed a silver in the 400m race. Felix's social media accounts are great ways for fans to keep in touch with her fast-moving life and to see what a day in the sprinter's world is all about. Although she will be in her mid-30s by the time the gun sounds in Tokyo, Felix's excellent conditioning and coaching should see her on the plane to the summer games. If she is there, it will be another chance for her to add to her medal haul, and a chance for her to finish off a fantastic career as one of the best USA sprinters of all-time.
9 Kayla Harrison: Judo
Kayla Harrison is a bad ass. She is a sixth degree black belt, and definitely someone you don't want to mess with. Harrison won gold at the 2012 London Olympic Games and the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in the 78 kilogram weight class. That's about 172 pounds for Americans. Harrison is about to take her judo skills into the octagon. The American judoka is expected to fight with the Professional Fighters League in February 2018. Mixed martial arts experts are calling her the most 'decorated Olympic athlete to compete' in combat sports. Her debut fight will be broadcast by NBC Sports and she could become the new face of women's MMA. By the way, she used to be the training partner of MMA's former top female fighter Ronda Rousey. At just 27, she should be back for the next Olympic Games.
8 Katie Lou Samuelson: Basketball
By the time the 2020 Olympics basketball tournament tips off, Katie Lou Samuelson will probably be in her first season in the WNBA; and she may very well be on her way to a rookie of the year award as well. The 6ft 3in forward has helped the University of Connecticut to a 74-1 record during her first two years at the school. Samuelson also helped the Lady Huskies win the 2016 National Championship. Add in a laundry list of individual accolades, and Samuelson is one of the brightest young stars in women's basketball. The UCONN forward is a leader on the court and one that US basketball fans won't want to miss when the Yanks take on the world. Just 20-years old, Samuelson has plenty of time to become one of the best WNBA players around.
7 Shaunae Miller-Uibo: Sprinter
Shaunae Miller-Uibo is one of the brightest female athletes on the Bahama's track and field team. The 23-year-old won the gold medal in the 400m race at the Rio Olympics, and she is ready to defend her title in Tokyo. Miller-Uibo will be hungry for more success after her 2016 World Championship failure. Leading the race with just 20m to go, Miller-Uibo stumbled when she took her eyes off of the track in front of her. Although it was frustrating for her, Miller-Uibo bounced back and claimed bronze in the 200m race just two days later. A month after her 400m failure, Miller-Uibo claimed a 200m/400m double at the IAAF Diamond League Final. Her competition better watch out, because Miller-Uibo blow past them in Tokyo.
6 Paige Lowary: Softball
Softball is back in the Olympics, at least for 2020, and the next Jennie Finch could appear at the games. The USA is stacked with softball talent, and one of the team's top pitchers is left-handed hurler Paige Lowary. In 2017, Lowary led the Oklahoma Sooners to the National Championship. It was bittersweet for the softball star, who had been struck in the face by a line drive the previous season while pitching for the Missouri Tigers. She bounced back from the injury and transferred to Oklahoma, where she began to dominate batters like never before. The team's 2017 title win was its second in a row, and the senior is hoping to bring another to the school's trophy cabinet in 2018. She could do the same as the USA's ace in the centre circle.
5 Charlotte Caslick: Rugby
Charlotte Caslick led the Australia's women's ruby sevens team to Olympic gold in Rio. The scrum half scored one of the Aussies' four tries as the team steamrolled rivals New Zealand in the final, 24-17. Caslick's Olympic performance helped her earn the Australia Women's Rugby Sevens Player of the Year Award. By the time the 2020 Games roll around, Caslick will be in her mid-20s, and she should be in her rugby prime. In the build-up to the Olympics, Caslick will lead Australia into the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2018. Caslick isn't just a great rugby sevens player on the field. She is an ambassador for the women's side of the sport off it. Currently, Caslick is experiencing a run of fame in Australia as she is one half of a rugby power couple with men's sevens captain Lewis Holland. Another gold at the Olympics, and Caslick could be the biggest sports celeb down under.
4 Stefana Veljkovic: Volleyball
Stefana Veljkovic was a member of Serbia's volleyball European championship team in May 2017. Veljkovic was named the tournament's best middle blocker thanks to her tall, slender 6ft 3in frame. She is a superstar in the sport and has won two consecutive Polish league titles with her club team KPS Chemik Police. Veljkovic is in the prime of her career, and will be just 30-years old when Serbia take to the volleyball court in Tokyo. It isn't all roses for Veljkovic as she and her teammates came under scrutiny for an alleged racist photo following their European championship win. The volleyball star is a major celebrity back home in Serbia, where the sport is taken very seriously by fans of all genders. Veljkovic is not only one to watch on the court, but she is a great follow on social media, too.
3 Ibtihaj Muhammad: Fencing
Ibtihaj Muhammad made headlines as a top-level Unites States Olympic athlete wearing a hijab. She was the first American-Muslim athlete to win a medal at the Olympics. Muhammad was a member of the USA's Team Sabre squad which won bronze. Since her success, the first hijab wearing Barbie was released in her honor in 2017. Muhammad has been a media star since her triumph in Brazil, but she is still extremely lethal with a sabre. Muhammad turns 32 in December, and she will be 34-years old by the time the Olympics start in 2020. There has been no word on whether she will compete, but with being a symbol for American-Muslim females to participate in sports, it would be great for her to be a part of the games. Whether she helps the USA win another Team Sabre medal may not be as important as her just being there.
2 Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlon
Katrina Johnson-Thompson is one of Great Britain's brightest hopes for a gold medal at the 2020 Olympics in Japan. The British athlete competes in the heptathlon as her main event, and has scored medal after medal at the junior level. In 2017, Johnson-Thompson performed poorly at the World Championships in London, but competing on home soil may have caused her to under perform. She did score a personal best score of 6,558 points in the heptathlon. The 24-year-old is working hard to get back to her best, and is focusing on her training in southern France as she prepares for the Tokyo games. She will be competing in the Commonwealth Games in April 2018 as she prepares for the next Olympics. Johnson-Thompson is definitely one never to miss when she is on the track.
1 Alex Morgan: Soccer
Alex Morgan is not only one of the best soccer players on the United States women's national team, but she is one of the top female sports stars in the world. The 28-year-old has had an illustrious club career that most recently saw her play for French team Lyon. Morgan has been playing with the US women's national team since 2010, and in 134 career international matches – up to November 2017 – Morgan has tallied 80 goals. She has been one of the most outspoken US female soccer players about equal pay, and she has become a great role model for young female soccer players everywhere. Morgan will be working hard to not only get the US women to the final of the 2020 Olympic soccer tournament, but she will also be striving to get the US women's team back to the top of the female soccer world.
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