2018 was an eventful year for a number of female athletes. WTA tennis
superstar, Serena Williams confounded critics with a superb comeback just months after giving birth to her first child. South Africa’s outstanding middle-distance runner, Caster Semenya continued to dominate on the tracks and China’s elegant dive supremo, Lin Shan won triple Olympic gold at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires.
Although all these women deserve a sustained round of applause, there are three young female athletes who dazzled audiences with their awesome sporting achievements in 2018.
Here’s our podium-topping trio in the ‘best women in sports’ category:
Katie Ledecky – USA
American swimming sensation, Katie Ledecky is no stranger to winning awards. The tall, powerful freestyler ended the 2018 season ranked number one in 400 m, 800 m and 1500 m freestyle on the FINA Swimming World Rankings.
Along with three Olympic golds and one silver at the PyeongChang games, the talented 21-year-old bagged three golds at the Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo, crushing the 800 m freestyle record in the process.
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Ledecky, who turned professional earlier in the year, has a total tally of five Olympic gold medals and 14 world Championship golds, an outstanding feat that’s resulted in the all-time Championship record.
Her antics in the pool earned her the Female World Swimmer of the Year award in 2018, her fifth achievement in this regard. She was also named the American Swimmer of the Year for the sixth consecutive year.
Ledecky is literally starting out in her professional career, so we can expect great things from her in the future.
Beatrice Chepkoech – Kenya
Kenya’s 3000 m steeplechase specialist, Beatrice Chepkoech was in the form of her life in 2018. The tall, leggy and attractive distance runner shattered the women’s 3000 m steeplechase world record at the IAAF Diamond League Herculis athletics meet in Monaco. In doing so, she became the first women ever to run the steeplechase in under 8 minutes and 50 seconds!
Chepkoech won a blistering seven out of eight steeplechase finals in 2018, including the illustrious Continental Cup, African Championships and Diamond League. She won in Shanghai, Paris and Brussels to claim her first Diamond League trophy, a feat she is destined to emulate again - if not this season, then surely the next.
Her stellar achievements on the track saw her being nominated for the sought-after IAAF Female World Athlete of the Year award in 2018. Although the title went to the Colombian jumper, Caterine Ibarguen, Chepkoech was one of five finalists who, according to the IAAF, ‘illustrated excellence’ in their chosen athletic discipline.
What’s in store for the Kenyan in 2019? We’ll have to wait and see!
Simona Halep – Romania
For Romanian Simona Halep 2018 was a watershed year. She claimed her first-ever Grand Slam title on the clay of Roland Garros, an achievement that every tennis player dreams of. In addition to winning a major tournament, the 27-year-old reached six finals, two semi-finals and two quarter finals.
Halep added the Shenzhen Open and Rogers Cup titles to her French Open crown. At the end of the season she amassed an impressive 46 to 11 win-loss record, thereby boosting her total winnings to more than $28 million!
Along with spending 53 weeks at the number one spot on the WTA World Rankings in 2018 - a feat that propelled her to 10th
on the all-time list for the longest consecutive run at number one - Halep closed down the year with the 2018 WTA Year-End World No.1 Singles Ranking for the second consecutive year.
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