Legendary American sprinter Florence Griffith Joyner is still regarded as the fastest woman in the world. Her world records in both the 100m and 200m categories have still not been broken. The three-time Olympic gold medal winner was also known for her six-inch nails and her unconventional outfits.
The most-decorated track and field athlete, Allyson Felix, once bullied for having skinny legs, now has a record 9 Olympic medals, including 6 gold medals. Named to Time 100 in 2020, she is also part of the board of Right to Play, which caters to children in underdeveloped countries.
Allison Stokke became an internet sensation after a few of her images went viral when she was 17. The talented high-school pole vaulter earned the 2011 All-American honors. She later gained more fame as a fitness model and a sex symbol than as a sportsperson. She also failed her Olympic trials.
Sprinter Wilma Rudolph made history by becoming the first American female athlete to win three track and field gold medals in a single Olympic game. As a child, she needed orthopedic shoes to help her walk. The sports icon lost her life to cancer but was immortalized through books and movies.
The first to score over 7,000 points in the heptathlon, Jackie Joyner-Kersee is considered by many as one of the greatest female athletes ever. While in school, she excelled in sports such as volleyball, basketball, and track, and also did well in studies. She later won three Olympic golds medals.
While she believes missing out on the gold medal at the 100m hurdles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics was her most painful experience, American hurdler and bobsledder Lolo Jones is still quite a star. She has penned a memoir and has also appeared on shows such as Celebrity Big Brother.
American beach-volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings was born to a baseball player father and a volleyball player mother, and was naturally drawn toward sports. She later attended Stanford on a sports scholarship and won three gold medals at the Olympics. She is married to fellow beach-volleyball player Casey Jennings
Born without fibular bones, Aimee Mullins had to have her legs amputated below the knee as an infant. Undeterred, she grew up to be a Paralympic record-breaker, competing as a track and field athlete with prosthetic legs. She has walked the ramp for Alexander McQueen and has starred in films, too.
Known as Awesome Dawesome, Dominique Dawes is a retired star gymnast from the U.S. who was part of the gold-winning team at the Atlanta Olympics. She also became the first African-American to earn an individual Olympic medal, with her bronze. She is also part of the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.
Simone Manuel is the first African-American woman to win an individual Olympic gold in swimming, She achieved this feat at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She started swimming at the age of four and swam across the pool on her second day of swim lessons.At the 2016 Olympics, she won gold medals in the 100-meter freestyle and the 4x100-meter medley.
Born to former New York City mayor and media magnate Michael Bloomberg, Georgina Bloomberg was no stranger to the glitz of an affluent lifestyle. An elite equestrian, she now owns the New York Empire team. She has also co-authored a few novels and is an animal rights activist and a philanthropist.
Babe Didrikson Zaharias was an American athlete who specialized in golf, track and field, basketball, and baseball. Considered one of the greatest female athletes ever, Didrikson won two gold medals and a silver medal in track and field at the Summer Olympics in 1932. She then went on to win 10 LPGA major championships, becoming USA's first female golf celebrity.
Kathrine Switzer was a 20-year-old Syracuse University student when she registered for the Boston Marathon in 1967. Though women were practically barred from competing, she competed as KV Switzer, avoiding mentioning her gender. Attacked at the event, she made history and became a champion for women’s rights.
Best known for her roles in Lizzie McGuire and Material Girls, arm-wrestler-cum-actress Dot-Marie Jones never aspired to become an actress. Instead she competed in shot put and power lifting, eventually becoming 15-time world arm wrestling champion. Discovered at a body-building tournament by Shirley Eson, she debuted on screen with Knights and Warriors, thereafter appearing in numerous films and television productions
Delilah DiCrescenzo is an American track and field athlete who competes in the 3000 meters steeplechase. She helped Team USA win the gold medal at the Americas Cross Country Championships in 2009. Delilah DiCrescenzo is the subject of a hit song titled Hey There Delilah by the popular American rock band Plain White T's.
Suzy Favor Hamilton is a former middle-distance runner who participated in the 1992, 1996, and 2000 Summer Olympics, representing the USA. Favor broke many hearts when she turned to prostitution which in turn ended her career as an athlete. She claimed mental illness as the reason for her downfall and is currently serving as a speaker at mental health conferences.
Marion Jones became the first female athlete to win five track and field medals in a single Olympic game. She was, however, stripped of all her Olympic medals after she admitted to using steroids. She also spent 6 months in jail for being involved in a check-fraud case.
Former figure skater Debi Thomas is also an Olympic bronze medalist. She began skating at 5 and participated in her first figure-skating contest at 9. A Stanford engineer and a qualified orthopedic surgeon, too, Thomas surprisingly ended up being broke and began living in a trailer in the Appalachian mountains.
Ibtihaj Muhammad is an American sabre fencer. An important member of the US fencing team, Muhammad is the first Muslim woman to wear a hijab while competing in the Olympics for the United States. In 2016, she became the first Muslim American woman to win an Olympic medal while wearing a hijab; she won a bronze medal for her team.
With a speed skater Olympian brother and a figure skater sister, Phoebe Mills stated out as a speed skater but later switched to gymnastics and ended up winning a bronze at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. She is also a talented diver and snowboarder and is now a lawyer, too.