So I’ve been preoccupied these past few days, but I have to alert you of something that I’ve noticed over the past two weeks.
Guys. Superheroes are real.
I’ve been watching the Olympics these past few weeks (while battling a serious case of writers block) and this is the only way I can rationalise the incredible feats of strength, agility and skill. I cheered, I laughed, I cried along with these athletes (while sitting on my butt at home at 2am) and was just blown away by every single display, regardless of medals won. As I watch the closing and thank the Lord for a chance to get a good night’s sleep before I become addicted to the Paralympics, I want to write about the superheroines of 2016.
Yes, I am aware of the male athletes of the Olympic. Yes I cheered them on, expecially my islanders, Team GB and anyone from the African diaspora, because I have my biases. I am happy to have been alive during the reign of Bolt and happy to be old enough to see him end his career on a high. I am so proud of Mo Farah and his mere existence that flies in the face of bigotry in the UK. The defeat of Phelps by Joseph Schooling, who was and probably still is his biggest fan had my jaw scraping the floor, and van Niekerk’s destruction of a 17 year long record was historical. But let’s talk about the Wonder Women, the Supergirls, the Black Widows and the Storms.
The powerful high-flying acrobat who has an entire move named after her. Her teammate who despite making history in the last games, was blasted by the media for irrelevant things, yet still shone in my eyes with her strength. The Fierce Five, the Final Five, the Fantastic Five. I salute you.
My incredibly gifted runner from the motherland of South Africa. She’s bee through so much since the discovery of her hyperandrogenism, the woman who just wants to run and run she did. Despite the
SALTY negative comments made about her by fellow running-mates, certain officials and ignorant social-media couch-commentators, she rose above to comfortably win her gold medal. Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika was sung in our household. While on the subject of melanin goddesses, can we recognise the 12 beautiful black women on the 4 by 100m podium? My heart swells with the thought of all the young black girls around the world who saw this and thought “I could do that”.
But I’m not just here for the black girls. The hijabi girls who donned their scarves with their capes and stomped on the stereotypes had me riveted too.The Egyptian Beach Volleyball team who proudly chose to wear their hijabs and represent their country in the event for the first time ever incited debate, commentary and love. The bronze-medal winning Muslim-American fencer made strides not just for transatlantic Muslim women, but for Muslim women all over the world. The first Saudi Arabian woman to run the 100m ran this year, and an Afghani runner also competed, both in hijabs. The scarves were on full display and support poured in from all corners of the globe.
INDIA. Your first medal of Rio 2016 was earned by a female wrestler, who also has the distinction of being the first female wrestler from India to win a medal ever! Were you proud, because I was. She flipped her opponents like pancakes, man. She-Hulk but brown.You had an athlete like my South African, bringing awareness to the issues surrounding hyperandrogenism. I stand with you and hope you get to perform in every single race you train for. And China. Oh man, you gave us a swimming treasure. Her frankness and openness in discussing a subject that isn’t taboo but is treated as such, and her adorable surprise at winning that bronze medal made her an internet darling.
The spirit of togetherness came alive as it always does during the Olympics, which is one of my favourite parts about the event. The women who helped each other cross the line despite their injuries. The twins who crossed the finish line holding hands. The refugee women (and men!) from different countries who swam, ran and fought their way to the main stage. The camaraderie displayed was uplifting, especially in the times we live in now.
My own little island produced a team of 5, 3 of whom were women. I am so proud of them all. My heart was in my throat as I watched the women of St Lucia in their events represent us on the world stage. They have trained long and hard and did their best… and did our country proud. We have many more athletes to show the world, and the ones we showed this year aren’t done yet. Tokyo 2020 better prepare for Team 758!
I didn’t name the women I mentioned on purpose, nor did I link articles to them. As far as I’m concerned, they should be household names. These women who rose to the challenge and represented their nations are heroes, top of their field, and if you guys don’t know their names then you need to go learn them. Despite the many, many negative comments aimed towards not just the women I mentioned, but many others, they shone on the world stage. While I am by no means a sportswoman, their hard work and dedication left me inspired, as I’m sure they did millions of others. We have a long way to go before we achieve equality but we’re getting there thanks in part to our superheroines.