In 2017, athletes found their place among congressional leaders when it came to taking political stances. Lebron James called President Trump a “bum,” Colin Kaepernick protested against the systemic oppression of black people and minorities in the United States, and Lindsey Vonn, gold medal Olympic alpine skier, said she planned to represent “the people of the United States” at the upcoming Olympic games, not President Trump.
While not everyone agrees it’s appropriate for athletes representing America on the world stage to criticize its leaders (the backlash against Vonn, for example, was swift), Olympian Sarah Hendrickson — who’s competing in Pyeongchang, South Korea at the 2018 winter Olympics — thinks that Vonn is an inspiration for her fearlessness.
“When Lindsey Vonn got attacked for not going to the White House, people tore her apart on Twitter,” 23-year-old Hendrickson tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “It’s her own right to voice her opinion…It’s a bummer she got attacked.”
Of course, Vonn isn’t the only woman expressing her contempt for President Trump. Across the country, women demonstrated the power of grassroots activism, making 2017 the unofficial year of the woman. Hendrickson says if she weren’t so focused on her ski jumping appearance at this year’s Olympic games, she, too, would have taken her place at one of the Women’s Marches.
“I just think that women, we have a voice and we are standing up for what we believe in. That’s what the future will hold. Optimistically, I hope it will be easier for women in the workforce or in athletics, that’s what I represent and that’s what inspires me and it’s good to see people standing up for themselves,” Hendrickson says.
It’s an issue close to Hendrickson and her sport, which only had its first Olympic event for women in 2014, even though men have competed in the sport at the Olympic level since 1924.
“There’s more equality we need to fight for, and I’m passionate about females getting into sport,” Hendrickson, the first-ever women’s ski jumping World Cup winner, says.
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
- Meet Maame Biney, the first black woman to compete as a U.S. Olympic speed skater
- What 11 Olympians do in the morning to start their days off right
- Mirai Nagasu just landed a triple axel at the Olympics. Here’s how she did it.
- This biathlete casually learned how to speak Korean before heading to the Olympics
- What 11 Olympians packed to make PyeongChang feel a little more like home
- Getting ‘lowballed’ is one of the most challenging things about being a woman in sports, says Olympian Lindsey Jacobellis