A look at Black women preparing to make Olympic debuts for Team USA in Tokyo

Photo Credit: Lamar Carter

If it is one thing the last few years have taught us – it is that Black women are the blueprint – in sports, in society, in virtually everything.

There are plenty of Black women preparing to make their Olympic debuts at the upcoming Tokyo Games that are more than prepared to show Japan – and the world – what Black Girl Magic is all about!

Let’s have a look at just some of those noteworthy Black women that will be making their Team USA debuts as they go for gold at this year’s Games.

A’ja Wilson

How can anyone not be familiar with A’ja Wilson at this point? After winning a national championship at South Carolina with the Gamecocks, she has translated that success into WNBA superstardom. Last season in the W’s bubble, she took home MVP honors and led her Las Vegas Aces to the WNBA Finals against the Seattle Storm.

Her coach with the Gamecocks? Dawn Staley. Her USABWNT coach? Dawn Staley. Apparently the Staley-Wilson connection works wonders.

Since Napheesa Collier (Minnesota Lynx) will be joining Wilson in Tokyo, this has all the makings of some interesting “Tea With A and Phee.”

Sha’Carri Richardson

The hair.

The confidence.

The everything.

The name Sha’Carri Richardson was on everyone’s conscience after what she accomplished at the women’s 100 meter race at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Oregon. Richardson has a big time leg up on the “What did you do at 21 years old?” competition because she can say she became an Olympian at 21.

The Olympics are every bit about the competitors as they are the stories behind said athletes. Richardson’s biological mother had passed away right before the Olympic trials. When her daughter, an LSU alum, raced her way to glory in Eugene, one can only imagine the 100-watt grin she had as she witnessed her daughter make history in the 100 meters.

Jordan Chiles

We are claiming it – the Captain Americas of Team USA this year will be Black women.

Black women have done a full-scale takeover of the landscape of USA Gymnastics. It was Gabby Douglas in London at the 2012 Olympics. At the Rio de Janeiro Olympics of 2016, it was when Simone Biles became a household name throughout America’s (and the international) sporting landscape.

That takeover is sure to continue with Jordan Chiles being part of this year’s Olympic team with the Biles-led USA Gymnastics squad. In an interview with NBC’s On Her Turf, Chiles explained that a few years ago, she thought about quitting gymnastics altogether as she figured perhaps her Olympic dream would be out of reach. A few years and work alongside Biles reinvigorated her dream – and it all paid off.

We cannot wait for the Biles-Chiles connection.

Michelle Moultrie

Softball was originally recognized as an Olympic sport at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, then dropped after Beijing 2008.

Softball will make its return at the Tokyo Olympics – and will be one of two sports where competition will commence prior to the Opening Ceremony. The other will be soccer. Moultrie had a storied career as a softball player at the University of Florida and was even named the SEC’s Player of the Year in 2012.

She was drafted in the 2012 National Pro Fastpitch Senior Draft to Orlando-based USSSA Pride. It has been a decade since Moultrie was named to USA Softball and with the sport back in the Games, Moultrie will make her Olympic debut in Japan.

Jacarra Winchester

For those that may not know – another one of our fave sports here at Beyond The W is wrestling – so of course, we had to get a wrestling shoutout in since it is one of the signature athletic competitions every four years at an Olympics.

This year’s U.S. Women’s Wrestling Trials might as well have been renamed the Jacarra Winchester invitational – because she earned impressive victories en route to making the Olympic team.

Winchester wrestled at Missouri Valley College. She already is used to gold medals, having claimed one at the 2019 World Wrestling Championships.

Honorable mentionCrystal Dunn

Dunn may already have made her Olympic debut five years ago in Rio, but we believe she deserves a shoutout because the United States Women’s National Team will certainly be one of the more closely watched teams of the upcoming Olympic Games.

Dunn is very familiar with North Carolina, having played collegiately for the Tar Heels and previously playing for North Carolina Courage of the NWSL. She currently is with Portland Thorns FC and has experience playing overseas with Chelsea F.C. of the Football Association Women’s Super League (FA WSL). Dunn was part of the gold medal-winning USWNT rendition at the Rio Games and the World Cup-winning 2019 USWNT team from France.

Oh, and let us not forget that she is too a Long Island native.

Special shout-out to South Africa’s Caster Semenya

Remember the story of Caster Semenya? The South African runner who effectively made the 800 meters her sport. She won three world championships in the 800 meters in addition to claiming gold medals in the 800 at the London and Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Except, she was effectively banned from competing in her signature discipline because she did not fit what society typically expects out of women – not to mention all of the nonsense that was coming out of the IAAF about testosterone levels. In 2018, an atrocity of a rule came out of the IAAF where women athletes had to take medicine that suppressed hormone levels if they reached a certain peak – and it only applied to distance competitions, such as the 800, that Semenya dominates in.

If this was not the IAAF (now World Athletics) punishing Semenya for dominating while Black, what else could it be?

She tried to qualify for the Olympics in other distance competitions – including the 5,000 meters, but it appears Semenya’s Tokyo window has all but closed.

Regardless, she is deserving of praise as well. She was effectively jettisoned from her signature competition because she made the competition eat her dust and the powers that be in international track and field could not handle a Black woman that defies gender norms becoming an international face of the sport. When all is said and done, Semenya’s name will be remembered in reverence while those within World Athletics, the former IAAF, will be laughed at in embarrassment.

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