The Write Sisters have written profiles of many women of accomplishment. The America’s Notable Women series always includes stories of Olympic athletes. We’ve profiled such women as gymnast Nastia Liukin, distance runner Lynn Jennings, swimmer Jenny Thompson, and skier Laurie Stephens.
As I write this, swimmer Elizabeth Beisel is in London participating in her second Olympic Games. She will be featured in our upcoming book on Rhode Island women. Yesterday, Elizabeth took the silver medal in the women’s 400 Individual Medley. So, before the book goes to press, we’ll be adding that information to her timeline. The 400 isn’t Elizabeth’s only competition in the XXX Olympiad. We may be editing her profile quite a bit before the end of the competitions.
When Elizabeth went to Bejing in 2008, she was only 15 years old. She turned 16 on her way back from China. Watching her last night and thinking about how young she was when she competed in her first Olympics got me thinking about the other little girls whose names we don’t yet know but who will be going to Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Those little girls are probably watching their favorite athletes compete this week. They are watching in between swim lessons, and gymnastics lessons, and track practice. They are eating their meals in the car while they commute to the gym or the pool and in the fall they’ll do their homework on the road. They’ll get up early to swim before school starts or stay after school to jump hurdles.
They will tie their hair back in ponytails and keep their fingernails short. And based on the stories of the women we’ve already profiled, I’m betting they’ll belong to clubs, make time for friends, and keep their grades up so that they get into good colleges. They can do all that stuff because they have self-discipline in spades. And passion. And energy. And the support of grownups who are willing to help them accomplish Olympic dreams.And when the running and swimming, and practice on the balance beam is all over, they will—like the women athletes who came before them—do some kind of good in the world. They’ll start mentoring programs like track star Jackie Joyner-Kersee or work in medicine like skater Tenley Albright. Because, when it’s time to stop competing, a woman’s gotta do something with all that tenacity, and energy, and self-discipline.
So here's to our Women of Wednesday: our future Olympians.