From Olympic gold medallists and world champions to trailblazers and history-makers, there are countless inspirational female athletes who have been hosting Olympian and Paralympian Online Experiences on Airbnb’s platform, providing unique insights on training, motivation, mindset and more. In celebration of Women’s History Month, the IOC joins Worldwide Olympic Partner Airbnb in shining a spotlight on some of these extraordinary women.
Olympian and Paralympian Experiences on Airbnb have provided direct earning opportunities for athletes, underlining the IOC’s efforts to support them and to put them at the heart of the Olympic Movement, while also bringing fans and their sporting idols together like never before.
And to mark Women’s History Month, we asked several Olympian hosts to reveal how they overcame the challenges they have faced as female athletes.
“As a female athlete competing in a traditionally male, mostly white, European-centric sport, I’ve had to overcome the obstacles of the geographical and financial barriers that make access to the sport challenging,” explains Simidele Adeagbo, who at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 became Africa's first female skeleton athlete and the first black female Olympian in the sport.
“As a black woman, difficulties related to equality are further compounded by the double challenges of race and gender bias. My career as a female athlete has taught me that we can take action to be change makers.”
During her Online Experience, entitled the Art of Reinvention, Adeagbo shares her “transformational blueprint”, which took her from being a triple jumper to a history-making Olympian, and shares her advice for those also looking to transform their lives for the better, encouraging them to overcome their own fears and doubts.
“There is nothing better than finding power in your authenticity, grabbing the chance to follow your passions and making a difference in the process.”
“Thankfully sport has changed a lot throughout the years, but although things have improved, gender equality still has a long way to go across all women’s sports,” explains retired British sprinter Anyika Onuora.
The Olympic bronze medallist, who made the podium as part of Great Britain’s 4x400m relay team at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, is currently hosting virtual high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts on Airbnb, during which she also shares her sporting journey and reveals what it took for her to achieve her dreams.
“I experienced a lot of obstacles in my career and I had to overcome many barriers in order to perform in elite level sport,” she says. “Despite all of this, staying focused I achieved more than I could ever wish for.”
Mechelle Lewis Freeman
“I've always been a competitor. I carried the name ‘tomboy’ as a young girl because being athletic meant I had a ‘male trait’. However, it was those same traits that allowed me to embrace my authentic self as an athletic girl who grew up to become a role model, a leader, a strong woman, a Track Girl, and an Olympian. It's my priority to ensure girls grow up knowing they are capable of doing anything just as they are.”
The Olympian and a World Championship gold medallist has founded the non-profit organisation TrackGirlz which increases access to sport, higher education, mentorship and empowerment programmes for young females.
To raise money for TrackGirlz, Mechelle has teamed up with the IOC and Worldwide Olympic Partner Airbnb to host an Online Experience where people from across the world can join her for a Mind and Body Masterclass.
“As soon as I silenced doubt and replaced it with extraordinary belief, as soon as I valued each thought and moulded it to support my wildest dreams, my goals rushed to meet me.”
If anyone knows the power of an optimistic mindset and positive thinking, it is Olympic medallist and American record-holder Deena Kastor.
In more than 20 years as a professional athlete, Deena has worked hard on her mental fitness, and now with her experience she teaches guests how to cultivate an optimistic attitude to reach their higher potential.
Focus and positive mindset are also the secrets of the world record-holder and peace advocate Tegla Loroupe.
"As a young girl I would run 10 kilometres to and from school each day just to be educated like the boys. I have always faced obstacles since I was a small child and always overcome them because I stay focused on what I want and how to be better.”
She continues: “As an Olympian and a two-time world record-holder from a small town in Kenya, I have proven to myself anything is possible if I put my mind to it. This is why I started the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation”.
During her experience, Tegla virtually welcomes guests at the Tegla Loroupe Training Centre, where refugee athletes are training for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Live from Kenya, Tegla and the other athletes offer guests a glimpse into where they get in shape, share their personal and inspiring life stories and walk guests through a 20-minute workout. All proceeds will benefit the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation.
“Finding peace through sport is a way to bring peace to so many refugees and disadvantaged people and when peace exists development is possible. As part of the Foundation's work, training refugee athletes for the Olympics has been a dream come true, and we know if these athletes are on the world stage we will continue to create more peace in the world."
To discover more inspirational stories from Olympians and Olympic hopefuls who contribute to women’s empowerment, check out the Olympian and Paralympian Experiences on Airbnb.