Shouting out Black women who shined at Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Photo Credit: AP

Now that the Olympic flame has been extinguished from the cauldron in Tokyo, it is time to reflect on what an unforgettable Games it was.

And while it will be remembered for being an Olympics contested under a resurgent pandemic and for highlighting mental health, it should also be remembered for all of the Black Girl Magic that took over Japan for those two weeks.

It seemed as though wherever Black women went at these Olympics, gold medals were not too far behind and we are here for all of it! Let us take a look back at the memorable performances that were put together by our melanin queens at the Olympics.

Simone Biles

The nerve that certain keyboard tough guys and Twitter fingers had to question her mental resolve because she was taking care of her mental as she bowed out of a few events early in the course of the Olympics.

She later revealed that her aunt had died during the Olympics – and in the balance beam, still managed to win a bronze.

In similar fashion to how Naomi Osaka spurred a conversation about mental health at the French Open, Biles might as well have been given a gold medal for winning the Olympics as a whole for reminding everyone that while Olympians may have superior physical gifts, they still are humans first that go through typical human issues like you or me.

Flowers. Flowers. And more flowers.

Raven “Incredible Hulk” Saunders

Saunders turned out to be another story where triumph and tragedy happened to intersect. South Carolina’s very own, she fought through adversity with the loss of her mother.

In the final of the women’s shot put, Saunders took home a silver medal behind Gong Lijiao of China who won gold. She also made headlines for what she did afterwards.

She threw up her arms in an X which denoted “the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet.” Saunders may have finished second overall at her sport, but she too was first in letting the world know that if one does not stand for something, one will fall for anything.

A’ja Wilson

Speaking of the Palmetto State….

When Team USA announced its roster for the Tokyo Olympics, it was a slam dunk that the Gamecocks great and Aces great would make the roster. After all, she has fully established herself as one of the best players in the world and her South Carolina coach – Dawn Staley – was at the helm for Team USA.

Sometimes, there can be first-time jitters for anyone competing in their first-ever Olympics. Not so much for the Mayor of SC.

Wilson averaged almost 17 points and over seven rebounds per game – and the game where Team USA claimed its seventh consecutive gold medal happened to occur on Wilson’s 25th birthday.

She was one of two participants from USA Basketball that made the All-Star Five. The other – Breanna Stewart, who was named MVP of the tournament.

Track and Field

Even with Sha’Carri Richardson being screwed out of an opportunity at Olympic glory, Black women let everyone know who the queens of the track are.

Just as the women of the USA Basketball made it a seven-peat in their sport, the women of the 4×400 relay team did the same by claiming a seventh consecutive gold medal.

Allyson Felix. Sydney McLaughlin. Dalilah Muhammad. Athing Mu. The Olympic Stadium at Tokyo was their world and everyone else was living in it.

The women of the 4×400 also turned in impressive performances individually. Felix won a bronze medal in the individual 400 meters. Muhammad competed in the 400 meter hurdles and won a silver medal. That silver, by the way, was second to McLaughlin’s gold. Not only did McLaughlin find her way to the top of the podium after the 400 meter hurdles, but her clocking in at 51.46 set a world record. Mu also won gold in the women’s 800 meters.

Not to mention – Gabrielle Thomas claiming a silver medal in the 4×100 meter relay as well as a bronze medal in the 200 meters.

Not to mention Puerto Rico’s Jasmine Camacho-Quinn winning gold in the women’s 100 meter hurdles. Keni Harrison of the United States finished with silver.

Ashleigh Johnson

Water polo is somewhat like curling in the Winter Olympics – one of those sports that becomes a phenomenon with casual sports fans around the time of the Games, then fades to black whenever the Olympic cauldron has been extinguished.

The U.S. Women’s Water Polo team claimed gold at this year’s Olympics. Dating back to the 2012 Games in London, the team has now claimed gold at the last three Games.

And leading the way was goalkeeper Ashleigh Johnson. She also was the nucleus for the team’s gold medal-winning effort five years ago at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Johnson mustered 11 saves in the win.

Tamyra Mensah-Stock

When one wins a gold medal, there are a plethora of things one could potentially do with said medal. What Tamyra Mensah-Stock did when she claimed hers was she bought her mother a food truck. The name of the food truck, reportedly? The Lady Bug.

Mensah-Stock bested her Ukranian opponent, Alla Cherkasova by a score of 10-4 in the semifinals of the freestyle 68 kilograms then defeated Blessing Oborududu of Nigeria by a final of 4-1 to ensure she would be atop the medal stand.

She became the first Black woman in history to win gold for the Stars and Stripes via freestyle wrestling.

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