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10 Most ‘Girl Power’ Moments of the Rio 2016 Olympics

We don't want to come over all glitter, platform trainers and 'ziggazehahh', but...

The Olympic Games in Rio were hugely successful for Great Britain. In total, our athletes walked away with 27 Gold, 23 Silver and 17 Bronze medals, coming second in the medal tables only to the USA.

Rio Olympics, 2016: See all of our coverage here 

The GB women impressed us no end with their strength and power on many occasions. And so did women from some of the other nations.

We don’t want to come over all glitter, platform trainers and ‘ziggazehahh’, but we couldn’t help but be inspired by some of the kick ass women gracing our TV screens and [FOR ONCE] newspaper headlines. Though we certainly felt some reporting left room for improvement [rhymes with: Daily Fail].

We’ve compiled a list of just a few of the stand out moments. They’re a mixture of sugar and spice – some are related to absolutely obliterating the competition, and others are more about what the athletes said and did outside of the ring…

Mara Abbott’s incredible breakaway

No, it wasn’t successful – but Mara Abbott, a rider who has had a long and fruitful career already (winning the Giro twice!), really put herself on the map in Rio. Yes, the American athlete has competed at a similarly impressive level before, but the simple fact is that the Olympics just draws more eyes, and for a significant portion of that race all eyes were upon Abbott.

Writing about the race in her own beautiful words for the Wall Street Journal last week, it’s clear that Abbott was and is bitterly disappointed with her fourth place. We can only hope that in time, Abbott will come to smile on the day when she really did create a “performance that was truly [her] best”. She certainly captured our hearts in the process.

The road race was eventually won by Dutch rider, Anna van der Breggen, as she sprinted from a group of three who swept past Abbott after playing the tactical game of cat and mouse to perfection. We’ve got to add that our absolute worst moment of the Games had to be seeing Annemiek van Vleuten’s crash – though we’re pleased to hear she’s now on the mend.

Kristin Armstrong showing that age is no barrier

It seems like early on in the Games, we were most inspired by the American riders… Kristin Armstrong’s performance was as successful as it was inspiring, as she took her third consecutive Olympic Time Trial Gold Medal.

The ex-triathlete who turned to cycling full time after being diagnosed with osteoporosis aged 27 won her third Gold medal the day before her birthday, aged 42 going on 43. She was greeted at the finish line by her 5 going on 6-year-old son, inspiring generations of women who might have previously written themselves off as too old for competition.

We loved seeing all the inspired comments across social media – particularly from Dame Sarah Storey who pointed out: “Average age of top 10 in the women’s TT today? Almost 32 years old. Says a lot about “development”. Don’t ditch riders with potential at 25!” as well as the response from reader Sarah Croucher who said: “A massive inspiration! Made me go faster on my TT tonight!”

Fu Yuanhui talking about getting her period for her Olympic final

Periods are an unfortunate fact of life and they can make a real difference to how we’re performing in many areas. For an Olympic athlete, that’s a mega inconvenience – yet it’s something we hardly ever hear them talk about.

The world was shocked when Bronze 100m backstroke medalist Fu Yuanhui was brutally honest having struggled in the 4×100 medley relay. Doubled up in pain and speaking to a reporter afterwards, she commented: “My period came last night and I’m really tired right now. But this isn’t an excuse, I still did not swim as well as I should have.”

The comment led to some Chinese viewers responding with disbelief that Fu Yuanhui could swim at all when on her period – reports state that around 2 per cent of Chinese women use tampons and that some still believe doing so can jeopardize virginity.

Though we’re not glad the Fu Yuanhui’s stomach cramps and tiredness affected her, we are glad she was able to help break the taboo.

Jenny Rissveds bosses Cross Country Mountain Bike race

The Sweedish rider is just 22-years-old, and it was her first Olympic Games. She’s had a tough year, too – battling illness and an elbow injury and only returning to competition in March.

The reigning under 23 champion won by 37 seconds, ahead of Poland’s Maja Wlozczowska – after she pulled away just before a technical dual slalom section of the course on the final lap.

On a negative note, we were just a little sad not to have a GB rider there – especially since Annie Last finished 8th in the event in 2012.

Laura Trott becoming Britain’s Most Successful Female Olympian

We’ll say that again – Britain’s Most Successful Female Olympian. Trott is the first woman to claim four Gold medals – and she’s only 24. She’ll be 28 when Tokyo rolls round, and already has her eyes set on matching Sir Chris Hoy’s 6 Gold medal count.

We loved how humble Trott was, commenting after her Omnium win: “I can’t believe it,  I didn’t expect that at all, I’m just so happy that it all came together. I’m literally over the moon. I can’t even explain what I’m going through right now, I’m just so so happy.”

#LikeAGirl: Why Feminism Has Nothing to do With Hating Men

She’s been working hard off the track, too – notably pairing up with ‘Always’ on their #LikeAGirl campaign which aims to keep girls in sport during puberty. Commenting on the partnership, Trott said: “[I’m] trying to inspire those girls [who might drop out of sport during puberty] to carry on, cos if I am a role model they can see that it can be achieved, and anything can be achieved, as long as you keep going and get through that tough time.”

Jubilant celebrations from Laura Trott’s mum

P&G ‘Thank You Mum’ ambassador Glenda Trott cheering her daughter Laura on to her World and Olympic records at Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Laura Trott bowled us over. Her performances were absolutely amazing, and we loved watching her race.

Whilst we’re at it, we also loved watching other people watch her race. Particularly her mum, Glenda, who showed off just how passionate women can get about sport!

GB women’s seamless pursuit (and their note for the drunk boys..)

The Team Pursuit requires speed, power – and perfect changes, perfect team work. Every fraction of a fraction of a second counts – and a lot can be lost if a rider doesn’t change from the front to the back with precision.

The GB women – Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell Shand, Katie Archiblad and Elinor Barker – scored a World Record in Qualifying, and in the final event. The team looked to be working together like a dream. As Laura Trott put it: “The feeling we were getting, it was like this machine was coming together. To come away with a time of 4.10 was honestly incredible.”

We also loved the united front the women’s TP squad presented to the boys – leaving a note on their bedroom door the evening of the men’s Gold medal (the night before the women got theirs!) that read “You’re probably ganna be drunk by the time you read this, and a few of you have already come into our room accidently – just a friendly reminder that THIS IS NOT YOUR ROOM.”

Jessica Ennis-Hill showing you can kick ass after pregnancy

Life after babies is a frightening concept for nearly any woman who enjoys sport and competition, but thinks she might like children one day. We know this becasue any article on riding through pregnancy, preparing for pregnancy or juggling work, sport and kids always goes down a storm with you guys. We do understand, and share, your concerns.

Which is why it was awesome to see Jessica Ennis-Hill score Silver in the Heptathlon 18 months after the birth of her son. No, it wasn’t Gold as per London 2012 – and yes, initially, she did seem a little disappointed – but she also congratulated the victor Nafissatou Thiam with excellent grace.

Not only that, Ennis-Hill was also keen to share a message to women – you CAN get back into sport AB (after birth) – but you don’t have to do it as quickly as she did if sport isn’t your job. She told Cosmopolitan magazine: “Obviously I was training most days before I had Reggie and my body was very well conditioned, so then after having him, although my body changed a lot, it did start to go back to where it was reasonably quickly after.

“But there are so many people who are like, ‘I need to get back to where I was straight away’, and that’s just not the case… It takes time and I think it’s really important that mums don’t feel like they have to have the baby and then the next week start running and doing sit-ups… Just give yourself time.”

Great Britain’s Hockey Squad getting first Gold – though Daily Mail reporting could have been better

Team GB’s women picked up the nation’s first ever Olympic Gold in Hockey – after a nail biting final where the result came down to penalties.

The country was gripped by the game, and the girls’ performance was deemed worthy enough to score Team Captain Kate Richardson-Walsh the job of flag bearer in the closing ceremony. We were thrilled to see the team do so well.

We were less thrilled to see the Daily Mail’s coverage of the team. The article (that we’re not going to link to) was titled “Captain who fell for her team mate, a goalie called Mad Dog and the vegan star striker: The Great Britain hockey stars going for glory tonight… and why today’s game is sheer savagery”. Snappy. 

The piece seemed to concentrate most of its available word count on the player’s love lives, and reached a pinnacle of journalistic expertise when the word ‘WIFE’ was written in capital letters – just to make it extra super specially clear that a woman was married to another woman.

Becky James’ Silver success against all odds

Becky James has had a really tough few years. A knee injury threatened to swipe her career on the bike away from her, and then a cancer scare reared its ugly head.

Against all odds – James was fit and in form when Rio rolled around, taking a Silver medal in the Keirin and then in the Individual Sprint. She was clearly thrilled with her haul, and her smile was infectious.

Fellow sprinter Katy Marchant also took the third step of the Individual Sprint podium, swiping up a Bronze – which was one hell of a feat, having moved over to cycling in 2013 after a Junior career in Heptathlon.

What an amazing Olympic Games it’s been – and the action is FAR from over. We’re upset to hear that Paralympic budgets have been cut – but we know it’ll still be a display of power, determination and strength. It all kicks off on September 7 – so make sure you’re watching!

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