Ultimate inspiration may come from within when it comes to effecting change in your lifestyle, fitness levels and sporting performance. However, it can be the impact of other women's achievements which really motivates and sets alight the fires of a positive, can-do approach. When your energy levels are flagging then tales of true determination and effort put in by female athletes around the world can truly inspire.
Since before the Rockford Peaches brought women on to the baseball field in the US in the '40s, women have been pushing the boundaries of their own success. Especially since the 2012 Olympics, interest in female athletes has soared and today we are still seeing firsts for women, with many not only reach the top of their game but doing so despite or perhaps in spite of the odds.
Allyson Felix: Three gold medals at the 2012 Olympics in London make this US athlete top of the track and field list, with a gold for 200m sprint, as well as golds for 4 x 400m and 4 x 100m relay races, the latter of which broke a world record. A well-deserved IAAF Female World Athlete of the Year award followed.
Bethany Hamilton: She wrote an autobiography in her teens which became the basis for feature film Soul Surfer and has gone on to become a symbol of the power of the human spirit. Pro US surfer Bethany Hamilton has not only achieved top rankings on the water but become a figure of true inspiration. A shark bite attack left her without her left arm but she jumped back on her board, taught herself how to surf one-armed and went on to win competition after competition.
Maria Sharapova: This Russian tennis superstar is ranked World No. 4, following the swift strokes of US Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka from Belarus, and Na Li from China. However, when it comes to putting other people's money where her performance is, she comes out top, with deals and prize money putting her earnings at USD $29 million, making her the world's highest earning female athlete.
Alisa Camplin: The first female Australian Winter Olympics gold medallist, this aerial skier won the second winter olympic gold for Australia ever during her 2002 performance. She also took home in 2006 making her the first Australian skier to take home medals from consecutive games. A worthy inductee of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
Jessica Ennis: An athlete who has it all. All round fitness that is, with a gold medal for the heptathlon in the 2012 Games, this British Olympic ace, is a European and World title holder too, as well as having achieved a medal in the World Indoor Championships for the pentathlon and holding the national record for the high jump. She overcame potentially career-ending injuries to claim her position as one of the world's top athletes.
Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani: The 2012 Olympics in London was the first time this judo athlete had ever fought in public. She will forever be remembered for being one of the first two women from Saudi Arabia to ever enter the sporting event. Other female firsts appeared in 2012 from Qatar, Brunei and Bhutan, paving the way for women athletes of the future to follow.
While you may or may not achieve a sporting first or reach the top of athletic achievement, what is more important is to reach for your personal best and create a healthy lifestyle that works for you, with a support network of strong, positive women who share your ideals around you.
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