100 ways women can make Olympic and Paralympic history (No. 41-50)

Simone Manuel
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As part of the countdown to the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, On Her Turf is compiling a list of 100 ways women can make history at this summer’s Games. This is the sixth post in the series. If you missed the first five, you can find them here:

No. 51-60 | No. 61-70 No. 71-80 | No. 81-90 | No. 91-100 


#50: U.S. swimmer Simone Manuel could become the first woman to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals in the 100m free since Australia’s Dawn Fraser won three straight titles from 1956-1964. In addition to her 2016 Olympic gold, Manuel has also won the last two world titles in the 100m free.

RELATED: Simone Manuel reflects on how her own story is told

#49: American Simone Biles has the potential to tie or break the record for most individual gold medals in gymnastics. The current record is seven (held by Czech gymnast Vera Caslavska) and Biles will enter Tokyo with three gold medals from individual events.

#48: If she is selected to the U.S. team, Venus Williams could tie the record for most Olympic appearances by an American woman (6). Williams, 40, made her debut at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where she won gold in both singles and doubles (alongside sister Serena).

#47: Thirteen years since softball was last contested at the Olympics, the same three pitchers who competed in the 2008 gold medal game are likely to take the mound in Tokyo: Japan’s Ueno Yukiko and Americans Cat Osterman and Monica Abbott.

RELATED: Which women will make the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team?

#46: American Brittni Mason is aiming to make her Paralympic debut in Tokyo. At the 2019 World Championships – Mason’s first international track meet – she won the T47 women’s 100m, breaking the world record in the process.

#45: The U.S. women’s water polo team is one of the most dominant teams in the world in any sport, having won every major tournament it has entered in recent years. The Americans already own the record for most Olympic medals (5) and gold medals (2) in women’s water polo. Led by two-time Olympic gold medalist Maggie Steffens – widely regarded as the best player in the world – the squad will be aiming for a third straight gold medal in Tokyo.

IN HER OWN WORDS: Maggie Steffens: There is tough. And then there is water polo tough

#44: Sport climbing will make its Olympic debut in Tokyo. The gold medal favorite in the women’s event is Slovenia’s Janja Garnbret, who owns six world titles (two each in combined, lead, and bouldering).

#43: New Zealand’s Valerie Adams could become the first athlete – of any gender – to win four Olympic shot put medals.

#42: Ruth Gbagbi – who competes in taekwondo – has the potential to become the first woman from Cote d’Ivoire to win Olympic gold (in any sport). At the Rio Games, she became the Cote d’Ivoire’s first female medalist by winning bronze, which she followed up by winning the 2017 world title.

#41: Paralympic archer Zahra Nemati has already broken barriers. In 2012, she become the first Iranian woman to win either an Olympic or Paralympic gold medal. In 2016, she successfully defended her Paralympic title, in addition to competing at the Olympic Games. Nemati – who is known as a vocal advocate for disability and women’s rights – is aiming for a third straight Paralympic title in Tokyo.

The NBC Olympics research team contributed to this story.

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