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1 year ago
15 American Women Who Are SO Bringing It to the Rio Olympics

As the summer heats up, so does the road to Rio. The 2016 Olympics are sure to be a memorable and, dare we say—herstorical—year for female athletes. From names you probably recognize (Gabby Douglas, Serena Williams), to newcomers to newcomers like 16-year-old Syndey Laughlin and Ibtihaj Muhhammed (the first U.S. woman the first to compete in the Olympics while wearing a hijab)—you'll want to cheer on the hometeam as these 15 women kick butt and take names. 

To learn more about all of the Olympic hopefuls, visit The Rio Olympics begin August 5 on NBC.

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15. Claressa Shields

Sport: Boxing

In 2012, the then 17 year old became the first-ever U.S. woman to win a gold medal for boxing in the sport’s debut at the Summer Games. In Rio, she could become the first boxer, male or female, to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals.

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14. Ibtihaj Muhhammad

Sport: Fencing (sabre)

She’s one of the top-ranked fencers in the world, and this August she’ll make history by becoming the first U.S. woman to compete in the Olympics while wearing a hijab. Watch her in sabre—the fastest, and some might say most aggressive, of the three fencing disciplines.

RELATED: 15 Female Olympians Share the Secrets to Winning at Life

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13. Sydney McLaughlin

Sport: Track & Field (400m hurdles)

Lolo Jones may be sitting out the Summer Games due to injury, but there’s a new face to watch in women’s hurdles: At 16 years old, this phenom will be the youngest to compete for the U.S. Olympic track team since 1972.

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12. Tori Bowie

Sport: Track & Field (100m and 200m)

Say hello to the new face of U.S. women’s sprinting. The 25-year-old earned her first Olympic birth by finishing third in the 100-meter and winning the 200-meter at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials. She’s considered the favorite in both events.


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11. Adeline Gray

Sport: Wrestling

Adeline started wrestling at six years old, winning three Boys State Championship titles and placing at every state tournament she competed in. And her winning streak has only continued: She’s a three-time US Open Champion, two-time World Cup Champion, and three-time World Champion. This summer, she’ll set out to become the first U.S. woman to win Olympic gold in wrestling.

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10. Gwen Jorgensen

Sport: Triathlon

She’s inarguably one of the most dominant triathletes in the sport, but this front-runner didn’t complete her first race until 2010—before that, she was working full time as a CPA for Ernst & Young. Consistently ranked No. 1 in the world, Jorgensen is the only athlete (male or female) from any nation to have finished the ITU World Triathlon Series with a perfect score of 5,200 points as part of an undefeated season. Jorgensen made her Olympic debut in 2012, finishing 38th due to a flat tire on the bike portion of the race. This year, count on seeing her leading the pack.

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9. Dana Vollmer

Sport: Swimming

At the 2012 London Olympics, Vollmer won three Olympic gold medals and set two world records (one of them being in the 100-meter butterfly, where her time of 55.98 made her the first woman to ever swim the event under 56 seconds). This summer, watch as the new mom—she took a two-year break and had her first kid, who’s now about 13 months—looks to defend her title in the 100-meter fly. 

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8. Alyson Felix

Sport: Track & Field (400-meter)

She’s been one of our favorites to watch since 2004, when she took home the 200-meter silver medal at the age of 18. The six-time Olympic medalist has been a staple on the track ever since. While she won’t get the chance to defend her 2012 Olympic 200m gold medal (she missed the team by .01 seconds), Felix will chase gold in the 400m and 4x400m this summer in Rio.

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7. Carli Lloyd

Sport: Soccer

She scored a hat trick in final of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup—becoming just the second person ever to score three goals in a finals match of the FIFA World Cup, and earning her 2015 FIFA Player of the Year. She also scored the game-winning goals in the gold-medal matches of the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics. Apparently, a lot of people are saying no team has ever won the FIFA World Cup and gone on to win Olympic gold—Carli is determined to prove those people wrong.

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6. Gabby Douglas

Sport: Gymnastics

The all-around and team gold-medal champ from London is back, and that’s no small feat: Gabby is the first reigning Olympic all-around gold medalist to return since Nadia Comaneci in 1980. After a few falls and stumbles during the U.S. Olympic Trials—ones that nearly cost her the spot on the five-woman team—we’re betting on Gabby to bounce back with close-to-perfect routines in Rio.

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5. Aly Raisman

Sport: Gymnastics

Along with Gabby, 22-year-old Aly becomes the first gymnast since Amy Chow and Dominique Dawes in 2000 to make a second Olympic team. After 2012—where she brought home three Olympic medals (team and floor gold, beam bronze), making her the most decorated gymnast at those Games—we didn’t think she could get any better. But with the pressure on, she proved us wrong: Aly was the only gymnast to hit all of her routines at the U.S. championships and trials this year.

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4. Keri Walsh Jennings

Sport: Beach Vollyball

She’s been the most consistent and dominant force in U.S. women’s beach volleyball, maybe ever. After winning three consecutive gold medals with her former teammate Misty May-Treanor, Walsh Jennings will be heading to Rio in hopes of a fourth. This time, with a new teammate: April Ross, who took home a silver medal after losing to Walsh Jennings in an all-American gold-medal match at the London Olympics in 2012.

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3. Katie Ledecky

Sport: Swimming

In her international debut at the 2012 London Olympics, the then 15-year-old unexpectedly won gold in the 800-meter freestyle. Since then, she has gone on to win 15 medals in international competitions—all of them gold—and has broken an unreal 11 world records. She won the 200m, 400m, and 800m at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials to qualify for her second Olympic Games—and you’ll be hearing a lot about her this summer in Rio.

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2. Serena Williams

Sport: Tennis

The 34-year-old is already regarded as one of the greatest athletes of all time, but her reign seems far from over: This past weekend at Wimbledon, Williams won her 22nd Grand Slam singles title, tying Steffi Graf’s record. Look for her in both singles and doubles (with her sister Venus)—the four-time gold medalist won both at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

RELATED: Serena Williams Takes a Swing at Ridiculously Sexist 'Lady Player' Comments

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1. Simone Biles

Sport: Gymnastics

Olympic champions like Mary Lou Retton and Nastia Liukin have said that there has never been a better gymnast—ever. It’s not them being modest—each was the best of their time—it’s just true. This will be the first trip to the Olympics for the three-time world champ and a four-time national champion, but there’s no question she’ll be the one to beat.

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