Women's Sports: Celebrating the Bold and the Beautiful – Women that changed the face of sport

Nicola Adams

Black History month has now become a date to add to the diary. It marks the accomplishments of black and minority individuals that have made a significant change to the culture.

Not only is it a time to celebrate the achievements of those that have changed the perception of BAME figures. It is also a time to remember and honour the people that have provided a platform to enable today’s generation to make a difference. 

As we approach the end of this iconic month, I take a look at just some of the courageous women that changed the face of the sport.

Alice Coachman

Alice Coachman literally reached new heights when she became the first Black woman to win Olympic gold at the 1948 London Olympic Games in high-jump.

During her early years, Coachman was unable to access training facilities or able to participate in sports due to the colour of her skin - an issue that was all too familiar to many BAME women in those times. She took it upon herself to make the most of what was available to her from running shoeless across dirt trodden roads to using homemade equipment to practise her jumping.

In an interview with Visionary Project, she was asked if she was optimistic about America’s racial future.  

Team USA Road to London 100 Days Out Celebration

“Now I could answer that in two ways. But at my age and the way things are going, in fifty years I don’t see very much progress.”

Her talent was discovered by her fifth-grade teacher Cora Bailey and despite protests from her parents, she joined the track team at high-school. This led to her being awarded a scholarship where she could continue her training and studies at the same time.

After qualifying for the USA Olympic team in 1948 and winning gold, Coca-Cola signed her, making her the first Black woman athlete to endorse a consumer product.

Simone Biles

Simone Biles became the most decorated gymnast of all-time this year at the World Championships where she secured her 25th medal, 18 of these gold.

At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Biles won four gold medals and one bronze. She then went on to win gold in all four events at the World Championships, making history as the first to do it.

Ahead of Tokyo 2020, Simone has the chance to make it five medals which will cement her as the greatest female gymnast in history, although she feels differently about being placed on a pedestal.

“I just try not to pay attention to others' expectations and go out there and do what I'm training to do." 

World Series - Washington Nationals v Houston Astros - Game Two

"It's hard, but I manage."

She is already being dubbed as the biggest star ahead of next year’s Olympics but that is not how she sees it:

“I just go out there, compete, try to represent 'Simone' not 'Simone Biles' whenever I go out there because at the end of the day I'm still a human being before I'm Simone Biles the superstar."

At the tender age of 22, she has the world at her feet.

Nicola Adams

The two-time Olympic gold medallist – the first female boxer to win gold at the 2012 London Olympic games and the first openly LGBT female Olympic champion.

She has since gone on to become a double Olympic medallist after winning gold at Rio 2016.

In 2001, she became the first female boxer ever to represent England. Her enthusiasm for boxing started at a relatively young age but she was introduced to boxing by accident.

“I was 12. I was the only girl and it was actually by accident,”

"My mum used to do aerobics, and she couldn’t get a babysitter, and they had a boxing class at the same place, so one night, she took me and my brother down.’ 

Boxing at Morningside Arena Leicester

Speaking of her passion and what drove her:

"I just loved it. The atmosphere; seeing everybody working out, training, having fun, all the kids running around, playing games. I’d seen re-runs of Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson fighting, and I was like: Oh man. This is so cool!'

In 2003, she became the English amateur champion for the first time, retaining the title at the next three championships.

Due to lack of funds, Adams took up small acting roles in soaps such as Coronation Street and Emmerdale until official funding was granted in 2009 towards Women’s boxing.

Paying homage to the likes of Jane Couch – who fought for women’s Boxing to be officially licensed, Adams will always be grateful to Jane for fighting women’s rights and creating a platform for people like her to do what they love.

After signing a professional contract with Frank Warren, Nicola is the current WBO Female Flyweight boxing champion.

By Sonia Randev

News Now - Sport News