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.
Jessica Ennis-Hill is a British retired track and field athlete. She specialized in multi-eventing disciplines and 100 meters hurdles. In 2012, she won an Olympic gold in the heptathlon. She was introduced to sports as a young girl and immediately took an interest in athletics. She has won several other titles as well in addition to her Olympic gold.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is a Jamaican sprinter who achieved international recognition in 2008 when she won the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Beijing. She then went on to win gold medals at the 2012 and 2020 Olympic Games. Counted among the greatest sprinters of all time, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce also has many World Championship gold medals under her belt.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist middle-distance runner Caster Semenya in an intersex woman, with high testosterone levels. The two-time Olympic gold medalist was asked to take medication to decrease her testosterone levels, to participate in the 2021 Olympics women’s events, and filed a case in the European Court of Human Rights.
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.
Cathy Freeman is a former sprinter known for her achievements in the 400 meters events. Her personal best of 48.63, set at the 1996 Olympics, makes her the eighth-fastest woman of all time. She gave Australia an Olympic gold at the 2000 Olympics. Also a humanitarian, Freeman is credited with founding the Cathy Freeman Foundation.
Paula Radcliffe is a retired distance runner, credited with winning the London Marathon and the New York Marathon three times each. Born into an athletic family, she emerged as a running talent by the time she was in her teens, winning the world junior cross-country title at the age of nineteen, eventually. She held the Women's World Marathon Record from 2003 to 2019.
Kelly Holmes is a retired English middle-distance athlete who specialized in the 800 meters and 1,500 meters events. She won gold medals for both distances at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. Beginning her career with the British Army, she turned to professional athletics in 1993. She took part in her final major championship in 2004.
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.
Merlene Ottey is a Jamaican-Slovenian retired track and field sprinter. She represented Jamaica in international events for 24 years before representing Slovenia for 10 years. In 1993, she clocked 21.87 seconds to set the world indoor record for 200 metres; she has been holding that record ever since. Merlene Ottey is also known for winning several medals at Olympic Games.
Jarmila Kratochvílová is a Czech retired track and field athlete known for winning gold medals in the 800m and 400m events at the 1983 World Championships and setting a world record in the process in the 400m event. In 1983, she also set a world record in the 800m event. Kratochvílová also won a silver medal at the 1980 Olympics.
Denise Lewis is a British sports commentator and former athlete. She won the heptathlon gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and became the first European to win Olympic gold in the heptathlon. A two-time Commonwealth Games champion, Lewis also won silver medals in the 1997 and 1999 World Championships. She was also the 1998 European Champion.
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.
Ethiopian distance runner Tirunesh Dibaba scripted history by becoming the youngest female World Champion, in 2003, when she was a little over 18 years. She is also the first female to win the Olympic 5,000m/10,000m double. The 5-time World Champion is also a 3-time Olympic gold medalist.
At age 2, Sadako Sasaki survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, being just 2km away from the bombing site. However, years later, she developed leukemia, as an aftermath of the bombing. While in hospital, battling the terminal disease, she folded over 1,000 origami cranes, in the hope of getting better.
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.
Eilish McColgan is a British middle-distance athlete. She competes in the 3000 meters steeplechase and 5000 meters. She represented Great Britain at the 2012 Olympic Games and the 2016 Olympic Games. She won the Great South Run in Portsmouth in 2018. She has a degree in mathematics and accountancy from the University of Dundee.
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.
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.
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.
Anníe Mist Þórisdóttir scripted history as the first female to win the CrossFit Games twice. The former gymnast withdrew from the 2015 CrossFit Games due to heatstroke, but baring that occasion, she has never finished below top 13. She now owns Reebok CrossFit Reykjavik.
Derartu Tulu is an Ethiopian retired long-distance runner who took part in several events like road running and marathon. She won a gold medal each at the 1992 and 2000 Olympics. She also won a bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics. Tulu is also known for winning a gold and silver medal at the World Championships.
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.
Nafissatou Thiam is a Belgian athlete who achieved popularity in 2016 when she won the gold medal in Heptathlon at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Nafissatou Thiam went on to win another gold medal at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, becoming only the second woman to win consecutive Olympic titles in Heptathlon after America's Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
Sifan Hassan is an Ethiopian-born Dutch athlete who specializes in middle and long-distance running. She is best known for winning two gold medals at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. At the same Olympics, she also won a brone medal. Prior to her success at the 2020 Games, Sifan Hassan also won two gold medals at the 2019 World Championships.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson is an English heptathlete whose performance at the 2018 Commonwealth Games earned her a gold medal. She also won the gold at the 2019 World Championships. Katarina Johnson-Thompson holds the British record for the women's pentathlon with 5,000 points. A highly talented athlete, Katarina Johnson-Thompson also holds the British records for high jump in both outdoors and indoors.
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.
Sally Pearson is an Australian former athlete. After winning a silver medal in the 100 m hurdles at the 2008 Summer Olympics, Pearson went on to win Olympic gold in the same event in 2012. A two-time world champion, Sally Pearson also won two gold medals in Commonwealth Games. In 2011, she was named Female Athlete of the Year.
Christine Ohuruogu is a British athlete who has won an Olympic gold medal, two World Championships, and a Commonwealth gold medal in the 400m event. She also has an Olympic silver medal and a couple of bronze medals under her belt. In 2016, she became the second British track and field athlete to win Olympic medals at three consecutive Games.
Meseret Defar is an Ethiopian athlete who specializes in long-distance running. She is best known for winning a gold medal at the 2004 and 2012 Olympic Games in Athens and London respectively. In 2008 at the Beijing Olympics, Defar won a silver medal for Ethiopia. She has also won medals at the World Championships, All-Africa Games, and World Indoor Championships.