Looking for examples of strong, athletic women that inspire you.
June 25, 2012 7:11 PM   Subscribe

Looking for examples of strong, athletic women that inspire you.

It helps motivate me to get off my ass and kill it during my workouts when I have a little inspiration. I recently came across Venus With Biceps and it blew my mind. I also like the story of Kathrine Switzer. Examples can be super fit women, or not...just as long as they're strong and kickin' some ass. Contemporary is fine but women who paved the way for us today is even better. Thanks!
posted by MaryDellamorte to Health & Fitness (45 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
I always thought Tanya Streeter was badass for holding the absolute world record for freediving, and Susan Butcher, for winning the Iditarod four times.
posted by alphanerd at 7:16 PM on June 25, 2012

Bonnie Thunders.

Suzy Hotrod.
posted by Lucinda at 7:19 PM on June 25, 2012

All hail Billie Jean King! Great athlete, and an even greater woman.
posted by scody at 7:20 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Never fuck with Aimee Mullins.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:31 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Mildred Ella "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias, one of the greatest athletes of all time
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:35 PM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]

The U.S. Women's Soccer Team...particularly the '99 World Cup champions, including Mia Hamm & Brandi Chastain. Incredible athletes.

(And there's always Diana from a mythological standpoint.)
posted by malocchio at 7:37 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

You might check out one of my very favorite blogs, Fit and Feminist. Caitlin, who writes it, is a pretty badass long-distance runner (who got back into athletics after a long period of being sedentary), and she profiles women in many different sports.
posted by ActionPopulated at 7:41 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Rock climber Lynn Hill.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 7:44 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Very much a darkhorse in this ensemble, but my first thought was Vanessa Kraven.
posted by MinusCelsius at 7:52 PM on June 25, 2012

Martina Navratilova.
posted by MegoSteve at 7:54 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, Diana Nyad.
posted by MegoSteve at 7:57 PM on June 25, 2012

Fat athletes. (I'm #11, FYI.)
posted by ottereroticist at 8:12 PM on June 25, 2012 [5 favorites]

Yes, Holley Mangold!
posted by argonauta at 8:15 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Fastest Woman in the World
posted by missmobtown at 8:41 PM on June 25, 2012

Pam Reed is an ultrarunner who is still setting crazy records at the age of 40, Margie Goldstein Engle dominated American Grand Prix showjumping at one point, winning Rider of the year a record ten times &
Dee Dee Jonrowe
is still kicking ass in the Iditarod at the age of 59. I find these women inspiring because they keep competing, Many women do sports in highs school or maybe college and then just stop being active. Women who are competing at a high level into their 40s and 50s inspire me because I hope to too!

Then there are women like Venus Williams, Misty May Treanor and Kerri Walsh who are just larger than life: I find them inspiring because they are so strong and fast and that's awesome.

Also Ann Trason because she was a freak of nature!
posted by fshgrl at 8:47 PM on June 25, 2012

Valentina Vezzali is a foil fencer who has won five Olympic gold medals (as well as a whole lot of other championships). Here's a video of her at the world championships in Catania last year.
posted by Hypocrite_Lecteur at 9:00 PM on June 25, 2012

Ragen Chastain. Technically a dancer, but she's also incredibly strong.
posted by not that girl at 9:01 PM on June 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

Another Pam who is an ultrarunner
posted by ansate at 9:15 PM on June 25, 2012

Clara Hughes - OC, OM (born September 27, 1972) is a Canadian cyclist and speed skater, who has won multiple Olympic medals in both sports. Hughes won two bronze in the Summer Olympics in 1996 and four medals (one gold, one silver, two bronze) over the course of three Winter Olympics. She is tied with Cindy Klassen as the Canadian with the most Olympic medals.

In winning both Summer and Winter Olympics she is one of only five people to have won medals in both versions of the games, and is the only person ever to have won multiple medals in both. Hughes is also the only Canadian to have won medals in both the Summer and Winter Olympics. [wiki]
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 9:17 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Beryl Burton

Another fastest woman in the world [video].
posted by normy at 9:35 PM on June 25, 2012

Carissa Moore. I think she's a wonderfully strong and joyful surfer. She is currently ASP Women's World Champion, youngest to hold that title. Last year she was also the first woman in history invited to participate in the Men's Triple Crown of Surfing.
posted by rhythm and booze at 9:36 PM on June 25, 2012

Nadia Commenici: She changed the way the Olympics were scored. She got the first perfect 10. They did not even have a means to show a 10. They had to show the score as 1.00 and explain that it was a ten. In Later years, it was not only possible to show a score of 10.00 but even score above that. They added the ability to give bonus points for doing things exceptional and above and beyond what was required.

She and Olga Korbut largely created modern gymnastics as we know it. They raised the sport to a whole new level and were simply amazing. Olga was also incredibly humble, which is hard to fathom in this day and age. She got fan mail from all over the world. Some of it was simply addressed to "Olga, Moscow" and got delivered to her. But when she saw tapes of hetself performing, she would laugh and say she looked "funny".

I also am a big fan of Sarah Connor in T2. The actress who played the character had a baby a few months earlier and then got all buff for the role. Cher saw the movie and decided to track down the trainer that "did that to her" to help her get in better shape. I think she made some workout videos with him, or with his help or something.
posted by Michele in California at 9:50 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

I came in to say Aimee Mullins. So glad someone beat me to it.

In so many ways that woman inspires the shit out of me. It is one of my most ardent hopes that some day I can take a short walk with her and tell her so. Hopefully while she is wearing her really tall legs cause it tickles me so that she gets to be whatever height she wants.
posted by FlamingBore at 10:12 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Rock Climber Beth Rodden.
posted by ruhroh at 10:49 PM on June 25, 2012

Lynn Hill, not just one of the all time best female rock climbers, but one of the best climbers period.
posted by bumpkin at 11:07 PM on June 25, 2012

Dara Torres
posted by sigmagalator at 11:12 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Marilyn Bell
Hayley Wickenheiser
posted by emeiji at 11:16 PM on June 25, 2012

Hayley Wickenheiser
posted by islander at 11:28 PM on June 25, 2012

Rell Sunn. We are naming our soon-to-be-born daughter in honor of her.
posted by surfgator at 11:58 PM on June 25, 2012

Mariel Zagunis Olympic gold medal in fencing.
posted by Cranberry at 12:06 AM on June 26, 2012

Katie Taylor is an Irish boxer who has recently won her fourth world title. If she were male she would be a household name by now, but the profile for women's boxing is lower. She's a totally class act. Cool as chips.

(She also plays for the Irish soccer team, on and off.)
posted by distorte at 12:27 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Lisa Lyon, as photographed by Robert Mapplethorpe.
Surprisingly normal looking, except for the graphite.
posted by the Real Dan at 12:36 AM on June 26, 2012

Annie Thorisdottir, 2011 Crossfit champion.
30 min doc on Boing Boing.
Annie in Heat 4 of the 2011 games, 100 pull ups faster than most mere mortals can manage.
posted by Ness at 2:13 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Chrissie Wellington!

Four-time Ironman world champion, holder of three current world records, and has never been defeated in an Ironman distance race.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:11 AM on June 26, 2012

Brittney Griner, 6'8" post for Baylor University. BG is as sweet as she is powerful.
posted by Carol Anne at 8:07 AM on June 26, 2012

Oh my gosh, there are so many runners who were inspirations to me when I was an avid runner back in the day:

Joan Benoit, the winner of the first Olympic Women's Marathon
Grete Waitz
Rosa Mota
Ingrid Kristiansen

I was even a huge fan of Mary Decker (before The Incident with Zola Budd, which I saw in person Olympics fangirl squeal).


Cheryl Miller (basketball) - born just thismuch too late to get in on the WNBA; sister of NBA Hall-of-Famer Reggie Miller, who has said in interviews that Cheryl kicked his butt on the court)

Janet Guthrie (first woman to race the Indy 500) - imagine the arm strength and endurance necessary to physically drive a car going that fast for so long, not to mention the kick-ass-and-take-names attitude needed to compete against the guys back then)

Jean Driscoll (wheelchair racer & Paralympics Gold Medalist) - I had the privilege of meeting her in college, and was inspired by her determination.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:15 AM on June 26, 2012

lucia rijker, julie kitchen, miriam nakamoto.
posted by zdravo at 8:32 AM on June 26, 2012

Ernestine Shepherd (contains BBC video), 75 year old body builder from Maryland.

FTA: "The world's oldest female bodybuilder wakes up every day at 02:30 to fit in a 10 mile (16km) run before hitting the gym. But 75-year-old Ernestine Shepherd insists that "age is nothing but a number". "Miss Ernie", as she is known in the world of competitive bodybuilding, began training at the tender age of 71. "
posted by skye.dancer at 8:43 AM on June 26, 2012

just google "crossfit women" and it will blow your mind. also, lidia valentin.
posted by crawfo at 8:44 AM on June 26, 2012

For paving the way:
Gertrude Ederle
Rose Pitonof
posted by Xoder at 1:43 PM on June 26, 2012

Zola Budd barefut S.African runner
Evonne Goolagong Australian Aboriginal Tennis champion
Samina Baig & Polish Malgorzata hope to promote and inspire other females and to give a message that Pakistani females are as talented and strong as others.
Dawn Fraser Australian Olympic swimming medalist and politician
posted by adamvasco at 2:14 PM on June 26, 2012

MeFi's own medea42 has been doing some great interviews in her Plus Awesome series about awesome plus-sized people. They include athletes like competitive power-lifter Laura Porter, multi-talented triathlete Casey, who doesn't let her spinal injury slow her down, and some kick-ass roller derby girls, among others.
posted by jillithd at 4:59 PM on June 26, 2012

Kelley O'Hara, professional soccer player heading to the Olympics this summer. Mostly, I just have a huge crush on her. But like all the players on the U.S. Women's National Team, she is a beast in a good way and works hard.
posted by AppleTurnover at 6:10 PM on June 26, 2012

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