Nicola Adams was nothing short of amazing in 2016. The boxer from Great Britain didn’t just win a world championship, she followed it up in August with an Olympic gold medal as well. She was the only British boxer to win an Olympic gold in 2016.
Her victory in Rio made her the first female boxer to successfully defend an Olympic title and the first British boxer — man or woman — to defend an Olympic title in 92 years. She also won gold in her flyweight division in front of her home London crowd in 2012.
Adams came out publicly as bisexual several years ago, doing it so her public life could match her private life.
“No one’s ever really cared about me being bisexual and I only came out because I had always been out,” she told Vogue. “It’s just the general public didn’t know. I’m quite fearless. I’m like, ‘Let’s just go out there and do this and see what happens.’”
Along the way she has inspired female and LGBT athletes alike with her courage and historic success in the ring.
Marieke Vervoort. The wheelchair racer from Belgium was a multi-medal winner at the Paralympics, winning a silver (400-meter) and a bronze (100-meter).
Christina Hillman. The Iowa State senior placed sixth in shot put at NCAA D1 outdoor championship and fourth in shot put at D1 indoors. She won the Big 12 indoor shot put title.
E.J. Proctor. The goalie led Duke to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament, recorded 10 shutouts this season as the goalie, and earned ACC co-Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Carly Muscaro. Won the 400 meters and took second in the 200 meters for Merrimack College at the NCAA D2 outdoor national championship. She then finished 14th at the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 400 meters.