The Summer Olympic Games are underway this year, and as usual, they play host to some of the most inspirational athletes. It’s no secret that international competition is fierce when trying to qualify for any Olympics. But many of these individuals have had to overcome additional battles beyond the intense training sessions required. These bold Olympic athletes serve as incredible sources of inspiration to millions throughout the world. It’s through their dedication, commitment, and perseverance that we find the strength and ability to tackle our own life’s challenges.
Naturally, each of this year’s bold Olympic athletes had to deal with challenges related to the pandemic. The games in Tokyo were postponed as the world experienced a global lockdown in 2020. But fortunately, the games have resumed this summer, despite post-pandemic changes and restrictions that all athletes must honor. (Read more about embracing change in the post-pandemic world in this Project Bold Life story!) Without family and friends in person to cheer them on, Olympic competitors must rise to the occasion on their own. In this regard, everyone who is participating in the Olympics this year are inspirational athletes. But the following are among those who deserve special recognition given additional achievements and accomplishments attained.
- Hend Zaza – Syria – Table Tennis
At 12 years of age, Hend Zaza will be the fifth youngest Olympian ever to compete. In fact, she is the youngest Olympic athlete since 1968. She will represent Syria in table tennis, which has never qualified for the sport before. She started playing table tennis at age five, which makes her one of the more inspirational athletes to follow in this year’s competitions. Zaza defeated Lebanon’s Mariana Sahakian to attain her entry into this year’s Olympics.
- Mary Hanna – Australia – Equestrian
On the other end of the spectrum, Mary Hanna will be among the oldest athletes to compete in this year’s games. The 66-year-old will represent Australia in the equestrian events, where she has competed in five other Olympics since 1996. This alone places her among other bold Olympic athletes. But the fact that she will be the second oldest female ever in the Olympics makers her one of the most inspirational athletes as well.
- Saeid Mollaei – Mongolia – Judo
Saeid Mollaei is perhaps one of the most inspirational athletes attending the Olympic games this year. Iranian-born, he competed in the World Judo Championships in 2019 and represented Iran. But officials in Tehran insisted he throw the match in the semi-finals in order to avoid a finals match with an Israeli opponent. Mollaei refused and ended up losing the match due to the emotional strain surrounding the match. He has since been awarded citizenship in Mongolia, and he will represent them in the sport in Tokyo. His courage and perseverance is what makes him one of the bold Olympic athletes to watch.
- Sky Brown – Great Britain – Skateboarding
Interestingly, Sky Brown was born in Japan, but she will represent Great Britain in skateboarding this year. She’s considered among the bold Olympic athletes because of her age (13 years) and because she learned skateboarding from YouTube. She is also one of the more inspirational athletes given the recent physical struggles she has overcome. In 2020, she suffered a skull fracture and a broken left wrist during training. But within two months, she was back at it again. She is currently the number-three-ranked female park skateboarder in the world.
- Emily Seebohm – Australia – Swimming
As a five-time Olympic gold medalist, few would question Emily Seebohm’s name being added to the list of bold Olympic athletes. At 29 years of age, she will be making her fourth Olympic appearance in swimming events. But the thing that makes her one of the more inspirational athletes is her out-of-the-pool struggles. This past year, she admitted on social media her struggles with an eating disorder that had affected her performance. Body-shaming and a misogynistic culture were believed to have contributed to her difficulties. But she overcame these difficulties using body positivity strategies and is expected to shine in this year’s games.
- John John Florence – United States – Surfing
For many competing in surfing competitions, the pandemic made it difficult to travel to training destinations. But for John John Florence, this was not an issue, given he lived in Hawaii. While he did not have to deal with these issues, he did face other personal difficulties. In addition to the repair of a torn ACL in 2019 of his right knee, he requires left knee surgery in 2020. Despite this, however, he is anticipated to be among the best surfers this year. And likewise, one of the bold Olympic athletes to make it to the Tokyo games.
- Abdi Abdirahman – United States – Track and Field
In terms of track and field, age is not always one’s friend. Younger runners tend to outperform older ones despite the many benefits running offers everyone. This is why Abdi Abdirahman is one of the more inspirational athletes in this year’s Olympic games. At 44 years of age, he will be competing in the marathon event as the oldest runner. Born in Somalia, he moved to Tucson, Arizona, at the age of 12 years. He has since won several medals in the 10,000-meter track and field events. But this year, he qualified for the marathon despite his age. Without question, he thus represents one of more bold Olympic athletes to follow.
- Helen Glover – Great Britain – Rowing
Helen Glover is not a novice when it comes to the Olympic games. She has wone gold medals in both 2012 and in 2016 for rowing. But in 2020, she gave birth to twins, making her a mother of three young children under the age of three. Had the Olympics occurred in 2020, she would not have been able to attend. But she used a rowing machine at home during the pandemic. Then, she began full-time training this past April. As a result, will be the first British rower to compete after having children. This and the fact she is 35 years of age makes her one of the more inspirational athletes in this year’s games as well.
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