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A dazzling display of diversity: the 2016 U.S. Olympic team

Courtesy of Agência Brasil Fotografias

CARLY SWAIN, STAFF WRITER

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   The United States won 121 medals at the Summer 2016 Rio Olympics, 46 of them being gold. In addition to celebrating a record-breaking medal count, we celebrate an incredibly diverse team that matches that of our country.

   “With last names like Armstrong, Hernandez and Zeng, our Olympic team represents most races, creeds and ethnicities found on the U.S. Census form,” writer Jeff Rivers said in his article, “Pots and Pans: Rio Olympics Will Showcase American Diversity.”

   The U.S. women’s gymnastics team perhaps best displayed America’s diversity. Its mix of races and ethnicities, black, white, Latina, and Jewish, made it the most diverse United States Olympic gymnastic team thus far. Laurie Hernandez is the first U.S.-born Latina to compete at the Olympics since 1984. Gabby Douglas returned to the Games this summer after becoming the first African-American woman to win the Olympic gymnastics all-around title and the first American gymnast to win gold in both all-around and team competitions in London. Simone Biles, the U.S. flag bearer at the Closing Ceremony collected five medals in Rio, four golds and one bronze. Biles is widely considered the greatest gymnast of all time. “The Final Five” brought home 12 medals, proving that our diverse nation is most powerful when we join together. 

   Gymnastics was not the only area in which our nation’s diversity was proudly displayed. Saber fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad became the first Muslim-American woman to compete in the Olympics while wearing a hijab. Muhammad is the first female Muslim-American athlete to win a medal at the Olympics.

   We also saw diversity in the Olympic swimming competition. Simone Manuel and Lia Neal made this year the first American swim team to contain two black women. When Simone Manuel won gold in the women’s 100m freestyle, she became the first black woman to medal in the history of Olympic swimming. 

   There’s still progress to be made in achieving a broader representation of our diverse American landscape in Olympic sports. However, this summer’s American team has taken a large stride in the right direction.

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A dazzling display of diversity: the 2016 U.S. Olympic team