AND IF YOU DON’T KNOW, NOW YA KNOW…

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The Olympics have come and gone.  I must say, aside from Ryan Lochte’s full-on frat bro display of stupidity and utter disrespect, I enjoyed what I saw.  I was unquestionably entertained and inspired.  I actually think that it’s the inspiration piece that really makes the Olympics so great.  Not only are athletes providing entertainment and bragging rights, but they’re using their lives’ work to inspire and teach millions of people.  That’s why we wait in anticipation and watch without flinching every four years; we want to be inspired and be taught to be better than we were yesterday.  Through the Olympics we learn about true perseverance, love, dedication and talent.  We learn just how much each athlete has to give up for the opportunity to represent their country, and we’re inspired to give a little more of ourselves.

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SOCIAL MEDIA INTERN WANTED!!

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GladiatHers.com is a blog that provides commentary and newsworthy updates on women in sports and we’re looking for a youthful, technology savvy intern to manage and grow our social media presence!

The Social Media Intern will play an active role in the developing and growing GladiatHer.com’s online community by maintaining GladiatHer.com’s presence on various social media platforms and by helping to create and publish content that is relevant to our reader base. He/she will regularly analyze and report on the activity on social media networks as well as the GladiatHers.com website.  Continue reading

GLADIATHER WIVES: COURTNEY AJINÇA

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We all grow up with certain expectations in life. We have ideas about what careers we’ll have, who we’ll marry, how many kids we’ll have…what our adult lives will generally look like. On the road to adulthood and living our fairytale lives, however, there are often unexpected events that shift our focus and our expectations. Sometimes those shifts have us doing things we never thought we would and living lives that don’t match our original expectations. But very miraculously, those unexpected events place us exactly where we should be, doing exactly what we were designed to do. That’s pretty much the story of this month’s GladiatHer® Wives feature. If you asked Courtney Ajinça when she was sixteen what she’d be doing when she was twenty-eight, I doubt that she would have told you she’d be an event planner who balances life as an NBA wife and mother. But that’s where she is and it suits her in a might fine way. Don’t believe me, just take a peek.

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KATINKA REMINDS US IT’S OK TO BE A TOUGH WOMAN

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We’re six whole days into the 2016 Olympics in Rio and the GladiatHers® of the world have not disappointed. They’re setting personal, Olympic and world records; inspiring us with their stories of perseverance and triumph; and even disappointing us in heartbreaking losses. The Olympics are absolutely meeting and surpassing my expectations. But in the midst of all the greatness, the media and the public have managed to give us far too many moments of mediocrity and stupidity. In instances where women are focused on winning gold medals and bringing glory to themselves, their families and their countries; people sitting at home and in their comfy news chairs choose to talk about hairstyles, unconventional family ties, the masculinity of performances and husband’s careers. Sigh. Listen, Gabby’s edges don’t need to be laid; Simone’s parents are her parents; Katie doesn’t swim like a man, she swims like Katie effing Ledecky; and Mitch Unrein’s wife has a name, it’s Corey Cogdell and she’s a hell of a shooter. I’m not sure why, but I still get surprised and disappointed with the routine refusal to acknowledge women for their greatness without making undercutting commentary.

Perhaps the most disappointing of the undercutting commentary has come at the expense of Katinka Hosszu, the Hungarian woman whose been racing out of her mind in Rio. After a disappointing showing in London in 2012, Katinka and her husband/coach Shane Tusup set out on a mission to come back to Rio stronger, faster and richer. By in large, they’ve done just that together. Thus far, Hosszu has set a new world and Olympic record and won three gold medals. Her dominance in the pool is unquestionable. Unfortunately, some commentators would like you to believe that Tusup and his coaching prowess are responsible for Hosszu’s success. Let’s be very, very clear; Hosszu is responsible for Hosszu’s success. Yes, Tusup has coached and likely inspired her, but at the end of the day, each and every athlete is responsible for his/her own success. Hosszu alone swam every practice and every meet. Hosszu alone earned each and every win and each and every dollar. She got her body up day in and day out, battled depression and defeat, and sacrificed normalcy for greatness. Any suggestion otherwise is rooted in pure sexist thought.

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But that’s not why I’m most upset at the coverage Hosszu’s been receiving. In addition to not being able to take credit for her own success, Hosszu’s had to endure pretty incessant conversation about her the health of her marriage and coaching relationship. From his poolside reactions, it is clear that Tusup is passionate about his swimmer’s success. He’s often found standing poolside intensely watching, cheering and directing Hosszu in practice and competition. Rumor has it that he has no qualms about letting her know when he’s proud or when he’s disappointed in her performances. He’s a coach who requires greatness from his swimmer. His passion has drawn attention from the public and questions about whether his coaching reaches abusive levels. Hosszu has repeatedly assured us that while there is no doubt that he is an intense, demanding coach, they have a healthy, loving relationship.

But Hosszu’s word doesn’t seem to be enough because, apparently, not only is she not strong enough to win on her own, but she’s also not strong enough to stand up for herself and endure grueling, strict coaching and training. The suggestions that Tusup is somehow abusing his wife and encouraging the usage of performance enhancers seems to be rooted in the media’s paternalistic view of female athletes, not fact. The world seems to hold a view that female athletes should be handled with kid gloves and shouldn’t be yelled at or pushed to the limit. We generally don’t bat an eye when we see intense men coaching men, but the sight of a man yelling at his female athletes often draws red flags. It draws red flags because society still wants women to be docile, helpless creatures who can’t handle toughness. Sure, some men can be abusive and some coaches can take it too far, so we should be mindful of dangerous behavior. But we’re dealing with an able-minded, world-class, adult athlete who has willingly entered into this relationship. Hosszu willingly decided that she needed a change and that her husband and his style of coaching were the best fit for the change. Hosszu and her swim times have shown that she is satisfied with Tusup’s coaching and their marriage. That should be enough.

Many seem to want Hosszu to be abused athlete, driven to cheating for the glory of her husband. That ain’t the story she or the facts are telling, so I’m not buying it.  The story I’m buying is one of the intense will and desire to win even if it’s painful and even if it’s unconventional. Some athletes need constant positive, calm reinforcement to be successful. But some athletes need coaches who pull greatness from them with yelling, intensity and relentlessness. It’s ok if athletes who need the latter happen to be women because you know what, women are tough. Women don’t always need to be coddled and they don’t always need someone to intrude into what works for them, even when it doesn’t fit society’s mold. If Hosszu needs demanding coaching to be great and she wants that intensity to come from her husband, we should be ok with that.

 

RIO 2016: IN THE FIRST 2 AND A HALF DAYS

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The Olympics have been rolling for just 2 and a half days, but GladiatHers® from across the world have wasted no time wowing us with their talents.  Here are a few pictures from our American GladiatHers® going to work.  Enjoy and stay tuned!

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Ibtihaj Muhammad made history by becoming the first American athlete to compete in the Olympics while wearing a hijab, the traditional headscarf worn by Muslim women.  She won her first round match but went on to lose in the round of 16.

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Katie Ledecky torpedoed ahead of everyone else in the pool in the 400m freestyle.  In the process she claimed a gold medal and set a new world record in the event.

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Simone Biles showed the world she’s here to rack up some gold with strong performances in the preliminary rounds of the women’s all-around competition.  US teammate Gabby Douglas won’t be able to defend her title as she placed third to Biles and Aly Raisman.

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After a streak of Olympic gold that spanned from 2000 until 2012, Venus and Serena Williams suffered their first and shocking loss as an Olympics doubles team.  They were ousted in the first round by the Czech Republic.

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Kerri Walsh-Jennings continues to show us that age ain’t nothin but a number.  She and new partner April Ross swept the Aussies in their first round match.

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The dynasty that is Team USA Women’s Basketball wowed us will a record setting victory over Senegal.  The ladies grabbed the W by scoring 121 points to Senegal’s 56.  Geesh.

Main picture: Carli Lloyd celebrates her 90th goal of her career to lead team USA to a victory over France.

We’ll be sure to keep you updated with pictures from GladiatHers® at the Olympics.

GLADIATHER GRADS: NICOLE POWELL

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Today we have our second addition to our newest feature, GladiatHer Grads, and she’s a dynamic sports writer who’s taken her passion for dance and people to help carve out a growing career in the sports industry that improves on the lives of others. Meet Nicole Powell!

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OLYMPIC SACRIFICES

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I LOVE the Olympics.  I’m really not even exaggerating when I say that.  I haven’t missed the opportunity to watch any of them since the time I had the slightest bit of control over what I watch.  And for an unreasonably long time, I just KNEW I was going to one day compete in them myself; definitely as a gymnast and then for sure as a sprinter.  Even when my hopes of being a world class athlete were replaced with more realistic goals for this 5’4.5″ frame of mine, my love for the games and support of the athletes remained.  There is something thoroughly inspiring and infectious about watching people dedicate their lives to a specific craft and then become the universe’s greatest performer of their craft.  For all the problems my country has, it’s usually an occasion for me to cheer on the red, white and blue proudly.  But this year, I find myself in a peculiar position; my heart isn’t 100% into the Olympics.

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