Enjoy this variety of current and historic achievements by some of the best female athletes in the world.
A recent recipient of the prestigious Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year, Atherton had essentially the perfect year. She won every single round of the World Cup, is unbeaten in 15 races and was once again crowned world champion. Understandably, the awards have come thick and fast for the 29-year-old.
At 32, American Vonn could have been forgiven for retiring long ago but last month became the oldest female world championships medallist with her bronze medal in the downhill at St Moritz. It also marked a seventh world medal in an already illustrious career, all the more impressive having broken her arm in a training crash in November, which has resulted in nerve damage which meant her right hand was still partially impaired.
The pressure was on Ivana Spanovic to deliver gold in front of an expectant home crowd at the European Indoor Athletics Championship in the Serbian capital of Belgrade. She didn’t disappoint. A heroic performance saw her jump seven meters and 24 centimeters, a new personal best and Serbia’s new national record. It was the third best indoor jump of all time, just 13 centimeters off the world record.
The story of Mélanie Astles has a blockbuster film script written all over it such are the boundaries she has broken and odds she has defied. The five-time French aerobatic champion is the first woman to ever compete in the Red Bull Air Race and is currently in her second year as a Challenger Class pilot. Her determination to become a pilot saw her leave school at 18 to manage several gas stations which helped her save money for flying lessons. The sacrifice was rewarded with a historic second placed finish in Indianapolis last year and clinching a place on the podium at the season opening Abu Dhabi race in 2017.
From a British perspective, Hinch was the hero of the hour during the women’s hockey final on a balmy evening in Rio de Janeiro back in August. The relatively diminutive 28-year-old proved something of a brick wall as wave after wave of attack rained down from the Netherlands in regulation time before she saved four penalties in the ensuing shoot-out.
It feels like Shiffrin has been on the World Cup circuit for a lifetime so prodigious a talent was she. In St Moritz she picked up a third straight slalom world title in a discipline which she has taken to truly dominate. She also added a silver in the giant slalom and now has her sights set on the overall globe for World Cup champion.
In her native Ukraine, the 26-year-old has long been a household name after a breathtaking performance earned her country the team gold at Beijing 2008. Eight years on last summer, she came home from Rio de Janeiro a double medallist, winning team silver and taking the individual bronze medal. She now has her sights set on a Tokyo 2020 gold.
Billed as Super Sunday, this year’s Winter X Games drew to a close on the final day with teenage sensation Sildaru taking the spoils and defending her title in the Slopestyle. Her result meant she was the first athlete in the event’s rich history to win two gold medals before turning 15 and the 14-year-old Estonian was also the youngest competitor to win two medals at a solitary Games.
Just one point separated the German freestyle skier and closest rival Kelly Sildaru in the inaugural Women’s Ski Big Air at the X Games at the start of the year in Aspen. But thankfully for Zimmermann (above right), a perfect switch double 10 and textbook cork nine truck ensured she was in the ascendancy on the podium.
Both in and out of competition, the past half a year or so have been a whirlwind for the American. She has taken triathlon to new levels and backed up her status as world No.1 to win gold at Rio 2016. And then in January, she and her husband announced they were expecting a child in August, almost a year to the day since her Rio triumph.
Legere is a modern-day action hero. One of the stars of the Red Bull Crashed Ice series, she relishes hitting speeds of 50km/h come race day. But when not getting her adrenalin fix on ice, she also doubles up as a stuntwoman, which has seen her take up starring roles on TV and in the movies.
For as long as she can remember, Chmelecki wanted to be a skydiver and, since turning the legal age of 18, she has been making up for lost time. In November, she led 65 women in a world record jump in the Arizona desert, braving -25C-degree temperatures at 6,000 metres and again made headlines with a Valentine’s Day-themed jump last month.