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The greatest female Olympians in history

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Ireen Wust
The greatest female Olympians in history. Photo/ NBC Sports.
  • 49.5 per cent of athletes competing in Olympics are females
  • The greatest female Olympians left a mark in the history of Olympics Games
  • While some are celebrated with their countries, others are well known worldwide

Some are celebrated within their countries. Others are well known worldwide. Nevertheless, the greatest female Olympians fared far better than the other competitors.

For starters, the first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896 in Athens, Greece, with only 241 men participating. Over the years, we have seen the number of participants increase, with the last edition of the Summer Olympics having more than 11,300 competitors. Women competed in Olympics for the first time in 1990.

As the world is getting ready for the 2024 Summer Olympics, which will take place in Paris, France, we have decided to bring you the greatest female Olympians of all time.

The Williams Sisters

The greatest female Olympians

The Williams Sisters. Photo/ Tennis Majors.

Serena Williams and Venus Williams are not only icons in the tennis world but also in Olympics. The sisters have culturally redefined tennis and played a significant role in infusing the sport at Olympics. As a team, Serena and Venus have won three gold medals at the Olympics. On top of that, they have won 14 doubles titles.

Katie Ledecky

A name that often pops up when the discussion is about the greatest female Olympians, Katie Ledecky won a total of 10 Olympic medals. She is the most decorated female swimmer and currently holds the record for women’s 1,500m, 800m and 400m freestyle. The American has been named Female Swimmer of the Year five times. She won her first gold at the age of 15 in the women’s 800m freestyle.

Katie Ledecky

Katie Ledecky won 10 gold medals. Photo/CNN

Simone Biles

It might actually take decades before we see a female gymnast as talented as Simone Biles. The American rose to fame after winning gold at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and has never looked back. As of now, she is the most decorated female gymnast in the world. The 27-year-old boasts seven Olympic medals (four gold) and 25 World Championship medals . As of now, three moves have been named after her and more could be coming considering how talented she is.

Simone Biles

Simone Biles is the most decorated gymnast in history. Photo/ KVC Health Systems.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce

A prominent figure in athletics, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has been the one to beat in every event she has competed in, not just Olympics. She was the fastest woman in the world from 2008 to 2015 and was as a result nicknamed “the Pocket Rocket”. Shelly-Ann is in the history books as the only athlete to win four world 100m titles.

Steffi Graf

It would be hard to talk about the greatest female Olympians in history without mentioning Steffi Graf. The German icon is the only tennis player to win gold at the Olympics and also triumph at a Grand Slam that same year, achieving what is called a Golden Slam.

Ding Ning

Ding Ning

Ding Ning rose to worldwide prominence at the 2012 London Olympics. Photo/ Olympics.com.

Arguably the most talented table tennis player the world has ever seen, Ding Ning is nicknamed “The Queen” in her home country China. Ning rose to fame following her performance at the 2012 London Olympics and never looked back. She is an Olympic gold medalist and three-time world champion. On top of that, she boasts 18 pro tours. While Ning no longer competes professionally, her legacy still lives on.

Ireen Wust

Well, how could one fail to mention Ireen Wust when talking about the greatest female Olympians? Wust is in the history books as the first Olympian to win five gold medals from five different Olympic Games. The 37-year-old Dutch former long track speed skater is the most decorated speed skater of all time.

Ireen Wust

Ireen Wust. Photo/ NBC Sports.

Conclusion

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the greatest female Olympians of all time as there are many athletes who have set records, whether in their sport or for their country. The ones we have mentioned and the others we haven’t talked about all deserve to be celebrated. Apart from the fact that they are all females, they have one thing in common – their achievements have left a mark in the history of Olympic Games.

Abraham Odhiambo is an avid sports fan who loves to write about football, boxing and wrestling. He's a big supporter of Manchester United. He's pursuing a bachelor's degree in Communication and Media at Egerton University.

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