Girl Power: American Teen Wins Gold In The Olympics’ Inaugural Women’s Boxing Competition
The 2012 Olympics have given females in the United States plenty of amazing role models. From the Fab Five and their remarkable accomplishments in gymnastics to the unstoppable Kerri Walsh-Jennings and Misty May-Treanor‘s third Olympic gold, I think we can all be pretty proud of our country’s women athletes. But there’s one competitor who hasn’t gotten much attention yet, but will hopefully get the recognition she deserves after her incredible Olympic performance. Claressa Shields, a 17-year-old girl from Flint, Michigan just won one of the first Olympic medals awarded for Women’s Boxing.
This talented teen beat 33-year-old Nadezda Torlopova from Russia in the 75-kilogram division. The final score was an impressive 19-12. The victory is especially sweet for US boxing after they were shut out of the gold medals in Beijing in 2008.
The London Games is the first time that women’s boxing has been an event at all. When the International Olympic Committee announced their plans to let women compete in boxing, there was plenty of blowback at the idea of ladies hitting each other for sport. At the time, even men who participated in the sport weren’t supportive of their female colleagues. Amir Khan, one of Britain’s best-known boxing Olympians who won silver at the Athens Games in 2004, said, “Deep down I think women shouldn’t fight. That’s my opinion. When you get hit it can be very painful. Women can get knocked out.”
Boxing is a dangerous sport. It’s dangerous when men compete and it’s dangerous when women compete. But both genders are equally able to do so, and both sets of athletes deserve the same amount of professional respect.
That turmoil, and the battle against the idea that females can’t be aggressive and powerful, makes Claressa’s triumph even more amazing. The very presence of the sport at the Olympics was already a huge accomplishment. The fact that a US teenager won is just ten times better.
I loved watching Gabby Douglas win the Olympic gold in gymnastics. And I know that she’s going to see a lot of press because she’s competing in a very high-profile sport. But I hope that we see Claressa Shields out there too. I hope that we all get to hear her amazing story and see another side of female athleticism. There’s the grace of Gabby Douglas ans there’s the power of Claressa Shields. Both deserve our respect and both should be held up as the pride of our country, as role models to our young girls.