Why The 2016 Women's Gymnastics Team Inspires Us All

by Renee Mitson
The women's summer Olympics USA gymnastics team is straight fire. Just look at who we've got: Simone Biles, the most decorated gymnast ever; Gabby Douglas, a bar powerhouse and reigning gold medalist; Aly Raisman, floor superstar and another reigning gold medalist; and the bad-ass newcomers: Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian. 
Aside from the high degree of skill these women bring to the games, there’s another major reason we’re all truly inspired about this year’s lineup: This is the most diverse women’s gymnastics team headed to the Olympics in history.

I hope the rest of the world takes notice, because it’s about damn time.

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Women’s gymnastics has long been regarded as a “white” sport. This year's team show that the times are a-changin'.

There have been a few standout diverse athletes in these sports over the years, most notably Tracee Talavera, Betty Okino, and Amy Chow, but as a whole, the women’s teams during those periods didn't represent the diversity of the US. Some people suggest that the sport itself is racially segregated, others attribute the prohibitive cost of training as a contributor to the “privileged whiteness” associated with the Olympics' most popular women’s sport. Likely it’s been a mixture of both.

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Talent is colorless. The 2016 team reflects that.

If you’ve seen the touching clip of Leslie Jones explaining to Whoopi Goldberg how watching Whoopi on television inspired her to become a comedian, then you know how important it is for women everywhere to see someone who looks like them accomplishing something great.

Furthermore, we know that women of all different backgrounds can help pull each other up in areas of our society where we're still unwelcome and underappreciated. And it's through this sisterhood that there will be one less female who encounters a confidence-defeating experience. 

It’s my hope the Rio 2016 Women’s Gymnastics Team lineup just kicked down that door for aspiring gymnasts everywhere.

With the rampant gun violence, Islamophobia, and segregation still raging today in our great country, it’s imperative that America displays the best and most diverse group of women our country has to offer to the world. The makeup of this team broadcasts that though we are different, we are all still one.

And that's resounding message our incredibly diverse 2016 women’s gymnastics team sends to young girls everywhere who'll be watching the games. It says, loud and clear, “This could be you.”

Inspired to get fit after reading about the 2016 women's gymnastics team? Check out these articles: Tell us in the comments: Does seeing the diversity of women in this year's Olympic gymnastics team spark pride? Which gymnast do you find personally inspiring and why?
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