Women’s History Month: Celebrating Inspiring Female Athletes
To mark Women’s History Month this March, we’re celebrating the female athletes from the past who provide inspiration and motivation for modern women. These amazing sportswomen serve as our role models, helping us to set raise our personal bars–to climb higher, stand taller, and run farther.
Which female athletes inspire you?
Since she was a little girl, Stonewear Grassroots Team Member Jeline Guiles has been inspired by runner Cathy Freeman:
The Girl Who Ran
When I was a little girl, I lived in Australia. I didn’t think about rock climbing (I don’t even think I knew about the sport back then). All I thought about was running; pushing my legs to their limit by moving them as fast as I could to get from point A to point B. Back then, I lived and breathed running. There was nothing more exhilarating than to feel the wind in my face, my hair whipping the back of my neck, and watching the scenery go by in a blur.
Even though I was one of the shortest in my class, I was fast. So much so that I could beat every single person in my class (including the boys) in the 100m race. Needless to say, I wanted to be a
runner when I grew up and when I learned of the Australian track star, Cathy Freeman, her inspiring story only fueled the fire within me to push myself in the sport.
Born and raised in Queensland, Australia, Cathy began her athletic career at a very young age, winning several regional and national titles in her teenage years. She is of Aboriginal descent and, at 16 years old, became the first ever Aboriginal Commonwealth Games gold medalist (as well as the youngest). In the following years, Cathy improved her race times, placed in several more competitions and became a household name in Australia.
I first heard of Cathy Freeman back in grade school, the year she won the silver medal in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, GA for the 400m event. I remember watching the race with such intensity, that I felt as though I was running on the track with her. I felt a sense of patriotism for my fellow Aussie. When I watched her run, I couldn’t help but root for her with every step she took. When she crossed that finish line in second place, I was filled with pride and a renewed spirit to try my best in future races. You could even say I was inspired enough to think about the possibility of running in the Olympics when I grew up. But alas, reality got the better of me as I grew older and my short little legs were no match for the Amazonian giants I was running against. But I digress…
Fast forward to the year 2000 when the Olympics were held in Sydney, Australia. Undoubtedly, the favorite to win was Cathy Freeman. All of Australia held their breath as they watched their fellow countrywoman turn the corners on the track with her long, calculated strides. We cheered her on as she ran the last, straight 100 meters of the race and watched in awe as she crossed the finish line, becoming the first Aboriginal Australian Olympic Champion in the 400m race! When taking her victory lap, Cathy carried both the Aboriginal and Australian flags, symbolizing her love of her country and heritage. It was epic, to say the least. At that moment, she made me believe I could achieve my dreams as well.
It pains me to tell you that I no longer run as I did back then. Years of not conditioning my body for sprinting has left my legs slower than they used to be. Of course, this decline in my ability to run quickly is not all in vain. Simply put, I fell in love with another sport – climbing. And although I may not be the fastest on the track anymore, my love of climbing still gives me the exhilaration of having the wind in my face and my hair whipping the back of my neck. The only difference now is I no longer watch the scenery go by in a blur. Instead, I get to enjoy the scenery from the top of the rock, where I know I can I do anything I set my mind to, all because of Cathy Freeman.
Read more from Jeline Guiles on her blog, Climb On, Sister!
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