Celebrating Women In Sport: Athletes Who Inspire

Cape At 6
8 March 2021

In every sport, in every nation, there are women who are taking the game to another level, inspiring others to take up the challenge and do even better. It’s an endless discussion: What makes a great athlete truly amazing? How can we properly honour women in sport? And who’s the best / kewlest / GOAT sportswoman of them all? And what 

We don’t have the answer to that (to any of that, really – though we did do a whole magazine honouring some of South Africa’s top women in sport…go check it out). Everybody has their own ideas on who’s the best. Ask four fans for their favourites, and you’ll get at least that many options.

We know, because that’s what we did.

So after much debate, here are four of Cape At 6’s favourite women in sport – and why you really ought to love them, too.

Siri Lindley: World Triathlon Champion, Coach, Cancer-Asskicker (Jesi’s Vote)

Siri Lindley didn’t even know how to swim when she started doing triathlons – and ten years later she ended up being the best triathlete in the world (twice), and even won the 2001 Aquathlon World Championship. She was part of the International Triathlon Union’s inaugural Hall of Fame class. She’s an author, a coach and a speaker, and the co-founder of Believe Ranch and Rescue, a non-profit focused on rescuing horses from slaughter. And her story of how she got where she is today is super inspiring. I feel like Siri almost looks for people to say no to her so she can prove them wrong. From her not being able to swim, crappy physical performances, toxic brand/sponsorship deals, her love life…the list goes on. It’s long, but Tony Robbins does an amazing podcast episode with Siri – it goes through her whole journey, and it’s well worth listening to. There’s so much of her story and her approach to life that resonates with me. She’s just awesome. And she also recently overcame cancer (leukemia) and still just has one of the most positive outlooks on life. I also have this long-term goal of wanting to complete a triathlon one day – but don’t tell anyone I told you…

Thembi Kgatlana: African Football Phenomenon (Myolisi’s Choice)

Thembi Kgatlana has done it all. She’s well-known for her skills in SA soccer, which earned her the title African Women Footballer of the year, and she scored the best goal of the year (taking goals from men and women alike into account). She has shone in the US, in China and now in Europe. One thing about Thembi is that she has a strong faith in God and works very hard to earn her success. I remember while she was at UWC, I would often see her training alone with her coach while others were resting. But what makes her really awesome is that she’s still grounded in her community, and she doesnt think twice before lending a helping hand to the needy. Besides her own foundation and tournament to develop not just women but also men footballers in her community, she is also a philanthropist, having financially supported many causes. She is a go-getter and an (over)achiever, but she puts God first and is passionate about community development. 

Caster Semenya: Righteous Runner (Khanyisile’s Vote)

Caster Semenya is not just one of the greatest runners South Africa – and the world – has ever seen (you don’t win two gold medals in separate Olympics, and three world titles, by accident, after all). She’s also one of the most resilient. She’s had to deal with underhanded and invasive testing, with intense public scrutiny of her life and her body, and with being banned for not being the kind of woman World Athletics approves of in their events. Despite all that, Caster has refused to let others define who she is and what she can be. Her bravery in fighting for what she believes is right and being unapologetically herself in front of all us is truly inspiring. She continues to do what she loves, no matter the obstacle, and that inspires me to be brave and to stand firm in who I am despite the disapprovals of society. As a black woman I could not be more proud to see the representation that she stands for. And I’m proud that she’s managed to inspire an entire movement to #LetHerRun. In a world full of division and hatred, that gives me hope for a brighter future.

Naomi Osaka: Tennis With Heart (Nick’s Choice)

Okay, I kind of cheated with this one – Khanyi also voted for Naomi. But since I’m compiling this list, I get to make the rules – and it’s one vote each, thankyouverymuch! Anyhoo…Naomi Osaka is pretty good at tennis. As a Haitian-Japanese American, she’s the first Asian athlete to be ranked World Number One by the Women’s Tennis Association (she’s currently number three), a three-time Grand Slam singles champion, and the US Open Reigning Champion. She’s also the highest-paid female athlete in the world – ever (which, interestingly, doesn’t even earn her a sport among the top 20 when you include male athletes; just think about that for a minute). And she’s also just cool, you know? She’s got a new bag line; uses her PlayStation to up her game;  schooled her boyfriend good in tennis on Tik Tok; placed Black Lives Matter Activism at the forefront of her 2020 matches and victories; and wept when she first defeated her hero, Serena Williams. She’s getting her own manga series, something she’s (understandably) super excited about. And she paused play at the recent Australian Open to make sure a butterfly got away safely. Awesome.

So…did we miss anything? Whose vote was best? Why not let us know at info@capeat6sport.co.za?  And feel free to check out the first 2021 issue of the Cape At 6 magazine. Edutainment guaranteed!