18 badass women who competed in the Olympics while pregnant


If any two events highlight the utter miraculousness of women’s bodies, they are the Olympics and pregnancy. Usually, though, we don’t get to witness women pulling off both at the same time—but over the years, at least 18 athletes competed in the Games while with child.

While no pregnant athletes are competing in Rio this month (which is good news because of Zika risks), we’ve gathered the stories of the insanely inspiring women who, since 1920, have done their thing while doing their thing. Prepare to be awed.

Lisa Brown-Miller, newly pregnant

The American ice hockey player on the right competed while unknowingly pregnant with her first child in 1998. This was the first year women’s hockey became an Olympic sport, and Brown-Miller’s team killed it: They won the gold.

Mara Navarria, newly pregnant

The Italian fencer is shown on the left. She competed in the London Olympics in 2012 and found out she was pregnant weeks later.

Kim Rhode, newly pregnant

Rhode is an American shooter. She competed in the London Olympics in 2012 while unknowingly pregnant. It wasn’t until, more than a month later, as she listened to friends describe symptoms of their own pregnancies, that she put two and two together. Rhode earned Olympic medals in the 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012 Games.

Katerina Kurkova-Emmons, newly pregnant

Kurkova-Emmons is a Czech shooter. She competed in 2008 Games in Beijing while one-month pregnant—and she nailed it, winning her first gold medal.

Martina Valcepina, newly pregnant

Valcepina is an Italian short-track speed-skater. She competed while one-month pregnant with twins during the 2010 Games in Vancouver. Four years later, she competed in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Kerri Walsh, newly pregnant

Walsh is an American beach volleyball player. She competed in 2012 London Games while unknowingly five-weeks pregnant. And you know what? She won her third gold medal that year, too.

DeAnne Hemmens, 2 months

Hemmens is an American athlete who canoed for the U.S. Olympic team in the 1996 Games in Atlanta while she was two-months pregnant.

Kerstin Szymkowiak, 2 months

Szymkowiak is a German skeleton racer with the nickname “Ice Tiger.” She won a silver medal when she competed at the 2010 Games in Vancouver while two-months pregnant.

Amelie Kober, 2 months

Kober is a German snowboarder who competed while two-months pregnant in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. The athlete revealed Kober her pregnancy in an interview at the Games, saying, “It is true that I am sitting out this season aside from this one race, because I will become a Mom.”

Diana Sartor, 2+ months

Sartor is a German skeleton racer who competed while nine-weeks pregnant during the 2006 Turin Olympics. She placed fourth.

Magda Julin, 3 months

Julin was a Swedish figure skater. She competed while 3 months pregnant in the 1920 Antwerp Olympics and received the gold medal. Yes, the same year the United States officially went “dry” under Prohibition, Julin was skating her way to gold while carrying a child.

Anna-Maria Johansson, 3 months

Johansson is a Swedish handball player. She competed while three-months pregnant at the 2012 Olympics in London. After the Games, she took a year off before returning to the sport.

Juno Stover-Irwin, 3.5 months pregnant

Stover-Irwin, shown second to left, was an American diver who competed while she was 3.5 months pregnant in 1952. She took home a bronze medal that year.

Anita Spring, 4 months

Spring is an Australian beach volleyball player, featured here with her teammate, Liane Fenwick. Spring competed while four-months pregnant at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Anky van Grunsven, 5 months

Van Grunsven is a Dutch dressage competitor. She was five-months pregnant when she won the gold medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Greek heat in the summer? NBD.

Kristie Moore, 5 months

Moore is a Canadian curler who competed while five-months pregnant at the Vancouver 2010 Games. Moore took home the silver medal that year.

Cornelia Pfohl, newly pregnant AND 7 months

This queen badass competed in the Olympics pregnant twice. In 2000, Pfohl, a German Archer, competed while newly pregnant and won bronze at the Sydney Games. Then, four years later in 2004, she competed while seven-months pregnant in Athens. If you’re wondering how she’d do if she competed in the Olympics while not pregnant, I can tell you—pretty damn well. Before becoming pregnant, she won a silver medal in the 1996 Atlanta Games. All hail.

Nur Suryani Taibi, 8 months

This Malaysian shooter is a damn inspiration. In 2012, she was the first woman to compete for Malaysia in Olympic sharpshooting—and she did so while eight-months pregnant with her first child. In interviews, Taibi said she had to adjust her stance to accommodate the pregnancy, but the added weight actually made her more stable. Taibi holds the record for “most pregnant athlete” to compete at the Olympics. Hell yes!

Cleo Stiller is a digital producer covering the intersections of sex, tech and culture. Words to live by: get your money’s worth.

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