To gear up for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Vogue has been spending time with some of the most promising athletes we can expect to see this year. These female Olympic athletes are inspiring beyond words, proving to women (and, really, just people) everywhere that determination, dedication, and passion can take you anywhere you want to go. Seeing these women accomplish so much in the male-dominated world of sports is incredibly moving; having devoted their lives to being the best in their sports, they are changing the face of athletics for us all, paving the way for women to leave their mark in the fields of soccer, gymnastics, distance running, and more.
It's definitely worth reading the full stories over at Vogue, which detail the lives of these phenomenal women and feature images shot by photographers such as Annie Leibovitz and Ron Haviv. Each profile highlights how they're making history in their own unique way as they make their way to the 2016 Summer Games.
The Olympic Games happen every four years (every two years, if you're counting the Winter Games), and this event, largely accepted as the largest sporting event in the world, will be the biggest opportunity for these awe-inspiring women to shine. Here are a few ladies to be on the lookout for:
U.S. Women's National Soccer Team Player Alex Morgan
"The ultimate tomboy," Morgan was hooked on soccer from a young age; by the time she was 16, she was already a star player on her high school soccer team. She had to fight for her career, as people weren't so readily encouraging for women to play soccer, notes Vogue writer Hamish Bowles — but these days, the U.S. Women's National Team plays for an average of 24,000 crowd members, which is the largest for women's sports in the whole world.
Morgan is also speaking out for gender equality, having been invited to a roundtable at the Forbes Under 30 Summit to discuss the wage gap between male and female soccer players. "I think players need to get paid for what they're worth, for what they put up on the field," she said at the summit.
The Dibabas, aka The Fastest Family In The World
Ato Boldon, NBC's track analyst, likens the Dibabas to Venus and Serena Williams, except there are more of them. Pictured above are sisters Ejegayehu (who won a silver medal in Athens), Genzebe (expected to take home the gold in Rio), and Tirunesh Dibaba (who has three Olympic gold medals), along with their cousin, Derartu Tulu (the first black African woman to win a gold in the Olympics). This family's performance in distance running is unparalleled, and as writer Chloe Malle, who profiled the family for Vogue, notes, there are actually four more siblings in the family — and they run, too.
People follow this family closely, as they continue to dominate the sport. Many eyes are on Tirunesh, who is coming back from a year off to raise her son. Genzebe is also on the radar, after winning IAAF's Athlete of the Year award and crushing records. She is arguably one of the best in the world.
Check out more over at Vogue.com and in the April 2016 issue of Vogue.
Images: Courtesy of Annie Leibovitz, Ron Haviv, Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott /VOGUE