Meet The 11 Fierce Black Women Headed To The Tokyo Olympics
Black women are dominating the USA athletic teams for the Olympics this year.
June 23, 2021 at 12:39 am
As we approach the Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo, which were postponed due to COVID-19, we couldn’t help but acknowledge the Black female athletes who have been dominating their sports and are going for the gold in just four short weeks.
Vashti Cunningham, daughter of former quarterback Randall Cunningham, won the women’s high jump at 6-5, qualifying for her second Olympic Games.
“The final was very exciting for me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it days leading up to it. I was so ready to be there,” the 23-year-old said, USA Today reported. “I didn’t quite jump the height that I wanted to, but I was just happy to go through (and) to win my first trials title.”
In addition to competing, Cunningham has a passion for fashion and also enjoys photography.
Though the women’s soccer team roster has not officially been named, defender Crystal Dunn is projected to join the U.S. team in Tokyo. The 28-year-old has played for the U.S. women’s soccer team intermittently since 2013 and helped lead the group to victory at the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
Dunn is also the co-founder of Black Women’s Player Collective (BWPC).
“The Black Women’s Player Collective (BWPC) is a nonprofit organization that elevates the image, value, and representation of Black women as athletes and leaders in business, industry, and public and private institutions,” their website states.
Track star and powerhouse Sha’Carri Richardson ran her way onto the U.S. track team after she won the 100-meter dash in the U.S. Olympic Track and Field trials on Saturday.
“I just want the world to know that I’m that girl, that every time I step on the track, I’m going to try to do what it is that me, my coach, my support team believe I can do and the talent that God blessed me to have to do every time I step on the track,” she told NBC Sports after the race.
The 21-year-old also shared that her biological mother recently passed away, and yet she still chose to rise to the occasion and pursue her dreams.
"I'm highly blessed and grateful… My family is my everything. My everything until the day I'm done,” she said.
"I'm highly blessed and grateful… My family is my everything. My everything until the day I'm done."
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) June 20, 2021
Olympic veteran Allyson Felix joined the U.S. track team for the fifth time after she finished second in the 400 meters on Sunday.
"Man, it has been a fight to get here," Felix said during a postrace interview, ESPN reported. "And one thing I know how to do is fight, so I just wanted to do that all the way home."
The 2021 Olympics will be Felix’s first time competing as a mother since giving birth to her daughter Camryn in 2018.
Kendra “Keni” Harrison
Hurdler Keni Harrison won the 100-meter hurdle jump on Sunday, qualifying for the women’s track team. After failing to qualify for the 2016 Olympics, Harrison kept her eyes on the prize and stopped at nothing to make sure the same did not happen this year.
“All the glory goes to God, just to come out here and do what I knew I could do,” Harrison said, WKYT reported. “I’m so glad I can put the past behind me and move forward. I try not to think of it as pressure. I know what I’m capable of, just to come out here and execute and cross the line first, and get the opportunity to go to the Olympics, means everything. I’ve worked so hard for this moment and I’m looking forward to it.”
After placing 4th in the women’s 100m freestyle on Friday, Natalie Hinds officially qualified for the U.S. Olympic swim team.
“I feel like the reason I’m so emotional that I made this team is because I’m just really proud of the courage and vulnerability that I showed myself, that I had a goal and I did absolutely everything that I could do to obtain that goal, and I finally did,” she said after the victory.
Five years after becoming the first Black woman to win an individual gold medal in swimming, Simone Manuel earned her spot on the 2021 Olympic swim team.
"More than anything, I'm relieved," she said, after revealing she was suffering from overtraining syndrome, ESPN reported. Today may have been the longest day of my life and the longest 50 of my life."
Naya Tapper shared on Thursday that she was selected for a spot on the women’s rugby team.
“Excited to announce that I’ve officially been selected to represent my country in the Tokyo 2021 Olympics! HOLY CRAP ????????,” she wrote in an Instagram caption.
Tapper credited her support system for guiding her, and also said that she was “blessed and honored for this opportunity.”
“Without every person I’ve come into contact with on this journey, I wouldn’t be here today writing this,” she said. “So thank you to everyone reading this because I’m sure you’ve supported me in one way or another and I appreciate you.”
24-year-old Las Vegas Aces player A’ja Wilson will be joining the women’s U.S. basketball team. The South Carolina native secured a spot on the roster alongside WNBA greats, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi. During her time at her alma mater, the University of South Carolina, Wilson was a three-time southeastern conference (SEC) Player of the Year.
After receiving an honorary statue for her legendary collegiate career earlier this year, Wilson said the moment was “bigger” than her.
“Thank you for taking a chance on this wide-eyed Black girl,” she said, the USC reported. “To every girl, especially every Black girl, remember you can do anything that you put your mind to. Have faith. Work hard.”
When she’s not shooting hoops, Wilson likes to collect jewelry, to pay homage to her grandmother Hattie Rakes.
Despite tennis player Naomi Osaka taking a break from competing in an effort to preserve her mental health, the 23-year-old is determined to be back and better than ever for the Olympic Games.
The four-time Grand Slam champion withdrew from Wimbledon, following her prior withdrawal from the French Open, as Blavity previously reported.
Osaka recently shared photos after she graced the cover of Vogue Japan.
Track athlete Christina Clemons made her mark at the Olympic trials which earned her a spot on the track team for the USA.
She finished third in the 100-meter hurdles, sporting Dorito bags as earrings.
“I’ve been looked over, I’ve been counted out, but when God is with you, it doesn’t matter,” the 31-year-old told NBC Sports. “Oh, I’m just so happy.”
Although Simone Biles, a five-time Olympic medalist and one of the world’s greatest gymnasts, is expected to compete on the women’s gymnastics team, she has yet to be confirmed.