International Women’s Day: Influential Women in Fitness and Sport

influential women in sport

For over a century, women across the world have been celebrated on 8th March as part of International Women’s Day. Although its themes, opportunities and number of supporters have continued to grow each year, the day's mission remains the same: celebrating and uplifting women in whatever way possible. 

The 2010s was a truly game-changing decade for women in sport. Can you believe that it’s only in the last decade that female England players have been awarded professional contracts in football, rugby union and cricket? 

Women have been killing it in sport and in fitness for years! And here at OriGym, we wanted to use this time to highlight some of (and by no means all!) the most inspiring, strong and badass women in sport and the fitness industry. Without further ado...

Serena Williams

Credit: Phil Walter / Getty Images

Thanks to her legendary career, Serena Williams hardly needs an introduction. The American professional tennis player is the world’s former No. 1 in women's single tennis and the winner of four Olympic gold medals. Williams has 39 Grand Slam titles across singles, doubles, and mixed doubles,  putting her joint-third on the all-time list and second in the Open Era, behind Margaret Smith Court!

Nicola Adams OBE

Credit: Chris Floyd / Camera Press

Nicola Adams OBE is a household name. The British former professional boxer competed from 2017-2019 before retiring with an undefeated record in 2019, holding the WBO female flyweight title. 

Adams was the first English female to win a medal in a major tournament, the winner of the first ever GB Amateur Boxing Championship, the first female boxer to become an Olympic champion after winning gold at London 2012, and the first double Olympic champion following a second gold medal in Rio 2016. Nicola won the entire set of amateur championships available to her and, as of 2016, was the reigning Olympic, World and European Games champion at flyweight!

Simone Biles

Credit: Dylan Coulter/The Guardian

Simone Biles is an American artistic gymnast who, at the mere age of 23, holds a combined total of 30 Olympic and World Championship medals! She is the most decorated gymnast in American history and the third most decorated gymnast in the world, behind Vitaly Scherbo (33 medals) and Larisa Latynina (32 medals).

Simone is the tenth female gymnast and first ever American female gymnast to win a World medal in every event. At the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, at the age of 19, Biles won a gold medal in all-around, vault and floor, bronze in balance beam, and gold as part of the United States team, dubbed the "Final Five".

Fallon Sherrock

Credit: Getty Images

Fallon is an English professional darts player who competes in the World Darts Federation (WDF) events. She reached the final of the BDO Women's World Darts Championship in 2015, where she was runner up to Lisa Ashton. Four years later, Sherrock made darts history by becoming the first female to win a match, and subsequently two further matches, in the PDC World Championships (PDC). 

Megan Rapinoe

Credit: AFP via Getty Images

Rapinoe is only 35 years old and is already a living legend. The American soccer superstar plays as a winger and captains OL Reign (of the National Women's Soccer League) and the United States national team. 

Rapinoe is a two time Olympic gold medalist, has won gold in the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup and 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, and won silver in the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup. She is the winner of the Ballon d'Or Féminin and, amongst countless other accolades, is also an activist who led the USWNT’s fight for equal pay from their federation.

Jessica Ennis-Hill

Credit: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill is a former track and field athlete who remains one of Britain’s most successful athletes. She is an Olympic champion, winning a gold medal in the heptathlon event at the 2012 London Olympics, a three-times world champion (2009, 2011, 2015), and a European champion (2010).

She is also the former British national record holder for the heptathlon, 100 metre hurdles, the high jump and the indoor pentathlon. Ennis was offered a Damehood in 2016, shortly after her retirement from competing in athletics.

Trischa Zorn

Credit: Getty Images

Trischa Zorn is an American Paralympic swimmer and is the most decorated paralympian athlete ever, with a whopping 55 medals to her name, 41 of which are gold!

Blind since birth, Trischa burst onto the Paralympic scene in 1980,  winning seven gold medals and setting three world records! She retired from the sport eight years later and inducted into the Paralympic Hall of Fame in 2012, becoming the first American woman to receive the honour.

Ko Jin-young

Credit: Getty Images

Ko Jin-young is a South Korean professional golfer who plays on the LPGA Tour.  By the time she was 22 years of age, Ko had claimed 10 wins on the LPGA of Korea Tour, placed second at the 2015 Ricoh Women’s British Open, and had won the 2017 LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship! She is currently the The World No. 1 in the women's game. 

Tia-Clair Toomey

Credit: Michael Valentin

Tia-Clair Toomey is an Australian weightlifter and CrossFit Games athlete. She is a gold medalist, winning the women's 58 kg (128 lb) event at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, and also competed in 2016 Summer Olympics, placing 14th in the women's 58 kg (128 lb) event. After being a runner-up in the 2015 and 2016 CrossFit Games, Toomey went on to win the 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 games!

Naomi Osaka

Credit: Reuters

Naomi Osaka is a Japanese professional tennis player. She is the first Asian player to hold top rankings in singles and has been ranked No. 1 by the Women's Tennis Association (WTA). 

Osaka has four Grand Slam singles wins under her belt and is the reigning champion at the US Open and the Australian Open. In 2018, she won her first two Grand Slam titles in back-to-back tournaments, becoming the first player to achieve this feat since Jennifer Capriati in 2001.

She is one of the most “marketable” athletes, ranking eighth among all athletes in endorsement income in 2020, and has also received recognition for her activism and support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

These are just some of the many influential women in sport and fitness who we find inspirational for their achievements, determination, strength and performance. It goes without saying that each of these women has trained hard to achieve their goals! To find out more about achieving your goals and becoming a personal trainer, check out our personal training courses.

Written by Chloe Twist

Fitness Content Manager, OriGym

Join Chloe on Facebook at the OriGym Facebook Group

Chloe graduated with a BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing from Liverpool John Moores University and prior to OriGym worked at J&R Digital Marketing Agency on the Liverpool 'Female Founders' series. Since joining the company, she has become a qualified Personal Trainer and advanced Sports Nutrition Specialist. Chloe’s professional interests intersect content-development and the world of online fitness, especially across social media and YouTube, and Chloe has herself contributed pieces on fitness and weight loss to sites including the Daily Star and The Express. Outside her day-to-day role, Chloe enjoys playing the guitar, gaming and kettlebell training.