We look at some of the most inspirational and phenomenal female athletes who started their professional sporting careers in their youth.
The list of African female athletes include:
Kirsty is one of the most decorated African female athletes of all time. She is one of the best swimmers that Africa has ever produced having won 7 Olympic medals and having participated in the Olympics on 5 occasions from 2000 to 2016. She participated in her first Olympics in 2000 at the age of 17 years old becoming the first Zimbabwean to make the semi finals at the Olympics. The same year she was named Zimbabwe’s Sports Woman of the Year. At the 2004 Olympics, Kirsty won her first gold medal at the Olympics in the 200m Backstroke and 4 years later broke the world record in the same discipline. Today Kirsty is the Minister of Sport, Arts and Recreation in Zimbabwe.
Pietie Coetzee became the youngest female national team hockey player at the age of 16 years old in 1995. Since her debut, Pietie has represented South Africa at 3 Olympic Games. Some of her top achievements include, holding the world record for the most international goals by a female in the history of hockey. She scored 287 goals in 289 appearances. In 1997 and 2002 she was named SA Hockey Player of the Year. 2002 was one of her best years because she also became the top goal scorer at the World Cup in Perth.
Despite all the controversy, Semenya is still a world beater in her discipline and will go down in the history books as an icon. Semenya won the Women’s 800m race at the tender age of 18 years at the 2009 World Championships. This race put her name on the map and shocked the world with her determination to win. From there she became the 800m Olympic champion twice in 2012 and 2016.
Portia is one of the best footballers that Africa has produced. She became the first African player to score 100 international goals, male or female in 2014. Portia made her debut for the Banyana Banyana National Team in 2000 at the age of 17. From here she went on to excel on the African stage that led to her being nominated for FIFA Women’s Player of the Year in 2005 as well as being named Player of the African Championships in 2006. In the end, she had a long international career from 2000 until 2015 where she was able to score 101 goals in 124 appearances.
The stories of these incredible athletes’ show that age is just a number. Nobody was able to stop them from reaching their dream or stop them from kickstarting their international careers at a young age. This just shows that anything is possible with a bit of hard work, don’t let the burdens of school life let you down.