When Japanese skateboarder Nishiya Momiji 13 years old – won gold in the first few days of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. It was the first sign this was going to be an olympics full of teenage role models.
Here's just a few of the other remarkable teenage girls we should be all be rooting for at the games.
- Age 13 (just!)
- Nation: Great Britain
- Sport: Skateboarding
Credit: AFP via The Telegraph
Sky turned 13 just days before the opening ceremony. Having finished second in a recent qualifier, the schoolgirl skater will be the youngest British Summer Olympian of all time. Considering she suffered life-threatening skull fractures in a training accident less than a year ago, that is an astonishing achievement.
(Watch out for a full profile of Sky in the next issue of the GirlBE magazine!)
- Age 12
- Nation: Syria
- Sport: Table Tennis
Credit: Getty Images via Olympics.com
Officially the youngest athlete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, table tennis prodigy Hend Zaza only recently turned 12.
Hend was just 11 when she booked her spot at the Games. The Syrian table tennis player has faced so many challenges to get to the games. Growing up in a war-torn country, Hend hasn’t had the same opportunities as many of her fellow athletes. Her home city was heavily affected by terrorism and war; so able tennis offered respite from daily hardships for her and her brothers.
Hend is the youngest table tennis player at the Olympics ever – and the youngest Olympian in any sport since 1992.
- Age 12
- Nation: China
- Sport: Diving
Credit: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images via Insider
Quan Hongchan is just 14 years old and will compete in the women’s 10m platform diving.
Quan took up diving in 2014, aged seven, and joined the Guangdong provincial team in 2018. She won gold as a 13-year-old last October at the 2020 National Diving Championship.
It was reported at the time that Quan said her motivation for diving was to earn money to help her ill mother afford medical treatment.
Good luck Quan, we will be rooting for you.
- Age 15
- Nation: USA
- Sport: Swimming
Credit: Getty Images Maddie Meyer via meaww.com
The youngest member of Team USA, Katie Grimes is a swimmer competing in the 800m freestyle.
Like many teenagers, Katie recently hit a growth spurt. But for Katie, growing three inches about eight months ago to get to 5 feet 8 inches created more than typical teenage angst. Her sudden growth massively affected her coordination and swimming technique.
She would show up at the pool and be beaten by her teammates, who began calling her Bambi because Katie suddenly swam like a deer on ice.
“It was crushing her,” said Ron Aitken, her club coach.
He kept telling Katie to be patient, and she knew she had no choice but to stick with her training program. Over time, her coordination slowly caught up with her growth, and she began to see improvement in the pool.
We can’t wait to watch Katie in the pool.
Jessica and Jennifer Gadirova
- Age 16
- Nation: UK
- Sport: Gymnastics
Credit: Laurence via Eurosport
16-year-old twin sisters Jessica and Jennifer Gadirova will be each other’s support systems in Tokyo, as they will represent half of Great Britain’s four-person gymnastics team. Jessica flourished at the 2021 European Championships, where she won the bronze in the all-around and silver in vault, and she became the European champion in the floor exercise. Jennifer, a strong vaulter and floor gymnast, is known for her difficult tumbles and eye-catching choreography.
The twins were brought up in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, started gymnastics at six years old, the girls have never had much training in dance – which is rare for gymnasts. Instead, they rely on their natural talent and coordination to carry their routines.
They dedicate 30 hours a week to gymnastics.
Let’s hope all that hard work pays off for them.
- Age 19
- Nation: Nepal
- Sport: Swimming
Nepali swimmer Gaurika Singh will represent her country both in the pool and as the flag bearer.
The 19-year-old was the youngest athlete at the 2016 Rio Olympics at 13 years and 255 days, and she was chosen to lead the five-member Nepali team in the opening ceremony this year. Gaurika has collected over nine medals during the South Asian Games and set a record for the most gold medals in 2019.
Gaurika says “Being at the Olympics can be stressful. Mentally, it can be difficult to cope with, but as athletes, we are trained to deal with the nerves.Still, sometimes we can get anxious, and it’s OK to ask for help. I am very grateful to have always had a great support system around me—my friends, parents, and coach—and they have always helped me stay calm and collected.”
“The most exciting part is definitely being able to represent my country at the highest level,” she says. “Although it is an unbelievable opportunity for me, I hope I am also able to inspire other women and girls from my country to participate in sports.”
Good Luck Gaurika we think you make a great role model and are sure to inspire lots of other girls.