The Olympics have just ended, and the long awaited Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics have so far been one of the most successful for Australia thus far. Australia wound up with 17 gold medals, far surpassing our hauls at the past two games, and level with our all time best at Athens in 2004. And of these medals, 10 have been won by our female athletes, who have gone above and beyond in this Olympics.
In fact, it is impossible to ignore the contributions that female athletes have brought to their countries this season, with Canada’s first 12 medals at the games all being won by women. Heading into the final weekend of the games, if the US women were their own country, they would have been fourth in the Olympic medal count. This raises the question: does this reflect a change in the field of athletics?
Athletics has long been dominated, both in conversation and in participation, by men. This time around, a bold decision by Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka to pull out of their games, during and before the Olympics, respectively, have generated a discussion surrounding the mental health of athletes with a fervor never before seen, despite athletes having previously opened up about their struggles to handle the pressure of their competitive sport. Moreover, it has created a debate about what it truly means to be strong, especially in a field that values toughness and perseverance.
It can also be said that the Olympic games have continued to evolve regardless of the conversation surrounding its participants. This change is most evident in the sports added to its roster for 2020, which include skateboarding and surfing. Their appeal to a younger generation is clear, and the younger generation will bring its ideals with them to future games. We can be sure to look forward to further dialogue, and further change, from our upcoming athletes.
This blog post, Secret Sisterhood celebrates the Australian women from past and present Olympics, who pushed themselves to the limits of human possibility, and in turn inspire us to be our best selves. These women not only brought change, but glory to their country, all the while paving the way for their sport, and the little girls who turned to their mothers to exclaim, “I could do that too!”
In the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Gould won three gold medals in swimming, setting a world record in each race. She was the first swimmer, male or female, to win five Olympic medals in individual events in a single Olympics.
Won two golds in her first ever Olympics in Tokyo 2020, for the women’s 400 metre and 200 metre freestyle. Not only did she bring in four medals in total, Titmus also posted a new Olympic record of 1.53.50 in the 200 metre.
As part of the Hockeyroos, Peris became the first Aboriginal Australian to win a gold medal in the Olympics. In 2013, she also became the first Indigenous woman to be elected to the federal government, joining the Australian Labor Party under Julia Gillard.
After winning four golds at the Tokyo Olympics, McKeon brought her total haul of Olympic medals to 11, making her Australia’s most successful Olympian and the most decorated athlete at the 2020 Summer Olympics. In addition, she is now tied with Ian Thorpe to have the most Olympic gold medals in Australian history.