National Sports

El Gato Honors Influential Women Athletes

By Lucy Panicacci

Culture Editor

In honor of Women’s History Month, El Gato would like to highlight accomplished as well as up-and-coming women’s athletes. Since 1900, when women entered the Olympics, women’s athletics have progressed with events such as the establishment of Title IX and the first Women’s World Cup in 1991. During this month, it is important to recognize the women who pioneered athletics to make it what it is today, as well as those who continue to raise the bar. 

Recognized for flair and stylish race outfits, American sprinter Florence Griffith Joyner revolutionized track and field. She was born Dec. 21, 1959, in Los Angeles, California. After racing since the age of seven, renowned sprint coach Bob Kersee recruited her at twenty-one years old. In 1984, she won her first silver medal in the 200-meter sprint at the Los Angeles Olympic Games. She went on to win three golds at the 1988 Seoul games, setting a world record in both the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash. Her 100-meter record of 10.49 seconds and 200-meter record of 21.34 seconds still stand today. Tragically, she passed away due to an epileptic seizure at the age of thirty-eight on September 21, 1998. 

At fourteen years old, gymnast Nadia Comaneci of Team Romania achieved a feat never reached previously. At the 1976 Montreal Olympics, she was the first to score a perfect 10.0 on the uneven bars. No one before had ever scored a perfect 10.0 in Olympic gymnastics, men’s or women’s. Throughout the Montreal Olympics, she achieved six more perfect 10.0’s, earning her three gold medals for the all-around individual competition, uneven bars, and balance beam. At the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games, Comaneci took home two more gold medals. In her career, she also performed technical moves for the first time, like the aerial walkover, double twist dismount, and double back salto. The talent of Comaneci continues to influence gymnastics to this day. 

Currently, Louisiana State University (LSU) Coach Kim Mulkey dominates college women’s basketball. The 9-time Hall of Famer was a star athlete and valedictorian at Hammond High School. At Louisiana Tech University, Mulkey led her team to two national championships. Currently, she is the only person in college basketball history to win a national championship as a head coach, assistant coach, and a player. In 2021, Mulkey took over as the head coach of LSU after coaching at Baylor University for twenty-two years. Within her first year of coaching LSU, she transformed their previous 9-13 season record to 26-6. In the 2022-2023 season, LSU holds an impressive 28-2 record. As well as her accomplished coaching skills, Mulkey brings a bold style to the court, dressing in brightly colored and sequined suits.

A current up-and-coming athlete is Belarusian tennis player Aryna Sabalenka. The 24-year-old recently won the 2023 Australian Open against Elena Rybakina, earning her first Grand Slam title. Sabalenka is the fourth woman to win the Australian Open in singles and doubles (2021 win with Elise Mertens). With her current streak of wins, the No. 2 ranked player in singles has a bright future ahead of her.

(Sources: LSU, TeamUSA, Tennis, Olympics)

Categories: National Sports, Sports

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