After a cancellation and surviving a global pandemic in the process, the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 are finally back on track (in 2021) and gearing up for highly anticipated athletic battles all taking place in Japan. Set to open on July 23, 2021 with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and organizers insisting that measures will be put in place to ensure the safety of athletes and other visitors, as well as a nervous Japanese public, the momentum is full steam ahead, with NBC curating over 7,000 hours of programming and 17 days of the best of the best competing for ultimate bragging rights.
And you know we wouldn't be who we are if we didn't show all the love to the ladies who will be showing up as their full selves, doing the damn thing, and representing for Black women, all up in the place. So, here's a list of some of our favorite women who are headed to Tokyo to bring home the gold:
Disclaimer: Lots of amazing Black women are continually qualifying for the Olympic events, and there are adjustments, drop outs, or additions announced every day. This article reflects who will be present at the time of publishing.
Simone Biles (of course)
Simone Biles has been killing all exercises in gymnastics, and basically kicking all ass and taking names. She has gladly accepted the role of being the face and mentor of USA gymnastics.
Jordan Chiles and Biles are teammates on the US gymnastics team and will compete together in Tokyo. Upon qualifying, Biles captioned a celebration photo of the two:
"Proud is an understatement."
Go kill it, ladies!
The 6'4'' Jordan Thompson, while at Cincinnati, was the 2019 Player of the Year, a first-team All-American and broke NCAA records in kills per set, tallying a school-record 827 kills during the 2018 season. She helped the U.S. win gold at the Tokyo Qualification Tournament in 2019. Her father Tyrone played for the Harlem Globetrotters.
Foluke Akinradewo is a Middle Blocker, born in Ontario, and a two-time Olympic medalist. Her son was born in 2019 and she, in addition to the U.S.ho, lds tri-citizenship in Canada and Nigeria.
Haleigh Washington is a 6'3'' three-time first-team All-American. She was named best blocker at the 2019 Volleyball Nations League, helping the U.S. win gold.
Chiaka Ogbogu has a 10-foot, 5-inch spike touch and led the U.S. in hitting efficiency and kill percent during the 2019 Volleyball Nations League, helping the gold medal-winning effort. Shehas played professionally since 2017 in Italy, Poland, and Turkey.
TRACK & FIELD
Allyson Felix famously kept her pregnancy a secret for several months, continuing to compete when she was four months pregnant. She lost endorsement deals but eventually returned on top. The rest, well, the rest goes down in track and field flex history. She wrote on Twitter:
"It's amazing how quickly your priorities change in moments like this. At that point, the only thing I cared about was that my daughter, Camryn, was OK. I didn't care if I ever ran track again." my greatest love."
Felix also made headlines for paying the childcare for moms competing in Tokyo.
The 25-year-old Texas native, born with a brachial plexus injury that limits mobility in her right shoulder, will compete in the track and field portion of the Paralympics.
One of the most anticipated athletes to compete this year is definitely Simone Manuel, who has shown up for the sport with something to prove. She is part beast, part fish and welcomes the competition in the most humble way. After missing the final in the 100 freestyle, and detailing her struggles, Manuel used a late reach to get to the wall first at the U.S. Olympic Trials and punch her ticket to Tokyo.
The U.S. Women's Basketball team consists of Ariel Atkins, Tina Charles, Napheesa Collier, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Sylvia Fowles, Chelsea Gray, Brittney Griner, Jewell Loyd, and A'ja Wilson. The U.S. team are the reigning champions and is looking for a historic seventh straight gold medal this summer
Rashida Ellis was one of the first six boxers to qualify for the Olympics so far. The 25-year-old hails from Lynn, Massachusetts, and will be making her Olympic debut.
Another one to qualify for the Olympics, is 23-year-old Oshae Jones. She will represent USA Boxing in one of two new weight divisions on the women's side. Fun fact: Jones is coached by her dad, Otha, and one of her two brothers, Roshown. Both of her brothers have been professional boxers.
Naomi Graham ranks No. 1 among America's middleweights and eighth in the world. Additionally, Graham will be the first active female member of the military to compete for USA Boxing in the Olympics (she's a staff sergeant in the Army).
The beloved roster of mainly veteran players who have won World Cups and Olympic gold medals while fighting for equal pay (among other things), are back for their closeup. Their first game representing the United States in the Olympic Games is on July 21, two days before opening ceremonies.
Crystal Dunn spoke on the moment, saying:
"Black women, especially, us existing in spaces that were not necessarily created for them" is not easy. I do think women as a whole, we are a little bit reserved in regards to boasting and sharing our accolades and talking about it in the media. But I think Black women have a whole other level of cautiousness regarding that, because we often do feel like we are just happy to be here. And I'm like, no, no, no, no, I'm not here to survive. I'm here to thrive in this environment."
Michelle Moultrie's road to the Olympics is finally here! The 31-year old has played on the U.S. National Team since departing Florida in 2012 and with softball not part of the London Olympics (2012) or Rio de Janeiro Games (2016), she has been anticipating her Olympic debut.
Paige "McFierce" McPherson, is a 30-year-old Afro-Filipino taekwondo competitor has been training six days a week for her third Olympics. She won the bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics and is the first American woman to make three Olympics in taekwondo.
Coco Gauff (has since withdrew due to COVID)
The 17-year-old Coco Gauff, currently ranked 23, earned her place as American No. 3. She will play for the U.S. in women's singles and will be the youngest Olympic tennis player in 20 years (year 2000). Although Naomi Osaka will be competing for her birthplace of Japan, you can be sure that both of them ladies will be there to support each other's BGM from the sidelines.
The 28-year old Oakland native earned a title in 2019 as the U.S. women had their best showing ever at the world championships with a total of three gold medalists. Now Jacarra Winchester will be favored to reach the podium, if not win it all, in her Olympic debut.
Back in July, she wrote on Twitter:
"In 1 month I will be going for gold, in Tokyo, along side these wonderful ladies. I have never met a group of women more persistent, hardworking & talented. TeamUSA is ready"
After barely missing the mark to qualify for the 2016 Rio Games, Tamyra Mensah-Stock is now on her way to Tokyo to compete on Team USA's wrestling team. Originally a track star, Mensah-Stock serves as the current women's world champion in the 68kg category. Black women are taking over everywhere!
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Featured image by Jamie Squire/Getty Images
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports