Who doesn’t love watching the worlds greatest athletes do their thing? Sporting pros are often our first role models in life so we put together a list of just some of the sports pro’s working towards complete inclusion in sport. Be it opening up about their mental health, overcoming the odds or just being who they are; these stars are as cool as it gets.
1) Gareth Thomas –@gareththomas14
Gareth Thomas was a rugby player for Wales and is still one of their highest try scorers ever. As well as being up there with the greatest players to ever play the game, Gareth was one of the first professional rugby union players to openly come out as gay. To have the bravery to be a trailblazer for LGBT sports professionals in a very masculine profession is more than enough reason to be considered a fantastic role model but Gareth Thomas isn’t done there; he also does a huge amount of charity work. What a hero.
2) Amy Purdy – @amypurdygurl
After becoming a double amputee at 19 and being given a 2% chance of survival, Amy Purdy broke the laws of what’s humanly possible and took up para-snowboarding. Within a year, she achieved silver and bronze medals at the Paralympics and now runs an organisation to help other disabled people get involved in extreme sports. If anyone is proof that you can do anything with determination and hard-work, it’s Amy.
3) Sarah Taylor – @sjtaylor30
Sarah Taylor is a world-class cricketer who plays for England. Being the icon she is, Sarah was the first female to play men’s grade cricket in Australia. What’s really incredible about Sarah is that, despite cricket being male-dominated, she’s widely considered as the greatest wicket-keeper in the sport; be it the men’s or women’s game. Sarah Taylor has also been open about her struggles with anxiety and starting the conversation about professional athletes and their mental wellbeing.
4) Megan Rapinoe – @mrapinoe
What happens when you cross incredible football talent with selfless charity work? You get Megan Rapinoe. She’s just finished a fantastic tournament at the Women’s World Cup, with a winners medal, the golden ball and golden boot to show for it, and is one of the best players for the USA. Despite her glittering career, there is more to why we think Megan deserves her role model status. After coming out as lesbian, she’s become a leading advocate in the sport for LGBT+ causes and donates a percentage of her salary to football-related charities. Legend.
5) Danny Rose
Danny Rose was one of the first footballers to openly talk about the pressures of playing football at the highest level and the effect that has had on him when it crosses with his personal life. After being diagnosed with depression, Danny was asked to meet a club interested in signing him because they wanted to check he “wasn’t crazy’. We all know it’s absolutely ridiculous that these are still views people have in professional sport and he’s working to break them down by normalising the conversation. Danny, we think you’re doing a fantastic job mate.
6) Kevin Love – @kevinlove
Basketball is literally a marathon and a sprint. It’s not only an incredibly fast-paced game but the league is also played over 9 months of the year and all over the USA. Kevin Love has voiced his personal experiences with panic attacks and continues to be one of the biggest mental health advocates in Basketball, along with Demar Derozan and Nate Robinson. He said that speaking out has been one of the greatest things he’s ever done and if that doesn’t prove that anyone can be going through something and it’s better to open up about it, then we don’t know what does.
7) Yuna Kim – @yunakim
If there’s something to be won in figure skating, Yuna Kim has already won it. She is the first female ever to win every official figure skating title; including at the Olympics and World Championships and is regularly referred to as “Queen Yuna” in the media because of her prominence. Having the talent to be one of the greatest in your sport is already incredibly impressive but, to add to that, Yuna has donated around 2.6 million US dollars to charitable causes. Let’s all bow down to Queen Yuna.
8) Raheem Sterling – @sterling7
If you put a quick search in Google for the work Raheem Sterling is doing to battle racism, your screen will be filled with hundreds of articles. As well as being England’s most exciting talent, Raheem also made a substantial donation to those who were affected by the Grenfell tower tragedy and is vocal about the positive influence his mother had on him. Sterling’s doing just as much off the pitch as he is on and his work in the public to combat prejudice in the world’s most popular sport make him someone we think of as a great role model.
There are hundreds of fantastic athletes who are making strides to bring inclusion to all sports. Nigel Owens, Serena Williams, Robbie Rogers, and Heather O’Reilly are all worth a research (along with plenty of others) if you’re looking for more real sporting idols.
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