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Breaking Down The Finalists For Female Athlete Of The Olympic Games And Why You Should Vote For Them

By Paul D. Bowker | Aug. 31, 2016, 6:11 p.m. (ET)

Five gold-medal-winning athletes are up for Female Athlete of the Olympic Games, presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.

So how could you possibly decide among these fabulous five?

Let’s take a closer look at the incredible achievements and background of each athlete.

Then, to cast your vote, go to: www.TeamUSA.org/awards. Voting ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

Voting for Best of the Games, presented by Dow, is also being held for best male athlete and best team.

Simone Biles
Sport: Gymnastics
Hometown: Spring, Texas
Age: 19
Rio Accomplishments: In her first Olympic Games, Biles won four gold medals (all-around, floor exercise, vault, team) and one bronze medal (balance beam), including a gold in the all-around.
Why it Mattered: A four-time U.S. all-around champion and three-time world all-around champion, Biles became the first American gymnast to win four gold medals at one Olympic Games and only the fourth gymnast ever to do so. She is also the fourth U.S. woman in a row to win the Olympic all-around title.
Fun Fact: Biles carried the American flag in the Closing Ceremony in Rio, becoming the first gymnast to do so. One of her other memorial Rio moments included getting a kiss on the cheek from her celebrity crush, Zac Efron.
What’s Next: Biles has not ruled out returning to defend her Olympic titles in 2020 in Tokyo. For now, she’ll join her Olympic teammates in a 36-city tour in September, October and November.

Gwen Jorgensen
Sport: Triathlon
Hometown: St. Paul, Minnesota
Age: 30
Rio Accomplishments: She won the gold medal in women’s triathlon.
Why it Mattered: Jorgensen is the first American to win an Olympic gold medal in triathlon, a sport that made its Olympic debut in 2000.
Fun Fact: Jorgensen is a Certified Public Accountant and holds a master’s degree in accounting from the University of Wisconsin. In fact, she even worked at Ernst & Young before taking up triathlon.
What’s Next: She will go after her third consecutive world championship in September in the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Cozumel, Mexico. In November, the triathlete known for her blazing running speed will make her 26.2-mile debut at the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon.

Katie Ledecky
Sport: Swimming
Hometown: Bethesda, Maryland
Age: 19
Rio Accomplishments: Ledecky won five medals in Rio, including individual gold medals in the women’s 200-, 400- and 800-meter freestyle races and relay gold in 4x200 freestyle. She also took silver in the 4x100 freestyle.
Why it Mattered: After winning gold in the 800 free in world-record time, Ledecky became the second woman to sweep the 200-, 400- and 800-meter races. Debbie Meyer did so in 1968.
Fun Fact: Ledecky is a volunteer with the Wounded Warrior Project at the Walter Reed Bethesda Naval Medical Center.
What’s Next: She is headed to Stanford University for her freshman year of college. Looking forward, she may add the 100-meter to her freestyle events and also the 400-meter individual medley. And there is also that matter of obtaining her first driver’s license (she has a learner’s permit).

Helen Maroulis
Sport: Wrestling
Hometown: Rocky Point, Maryland
Age: 24
Rio Accomplishments: She defeated three-time Olympic and 13-time world champion Saori Yoshida of Japan to win the gold medal in the 53 kg. women’s freestyle class.
Why it Mattered: Maroulis is the first American women’s wrestler to win an Olympic gold medal.
Fun Fact: After returning from Rio, Maroulis was invited by Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh to give a pep talk before the Ravens’ preseason game on Aug. 27 against the Detroit Lions. It worked. The Ravens won, 30-9.
What’s next: While there is a break in her international wrestling schedule, Maroulis is hoping to do some traveling and serve as an ambassador for women’s wrestling.

Claressa Shields
Sport: Boxing
Hometown: Flint, Michigan
Age: 21
Rio Accomplishments: Shields defeated Nouchka Fontijn of the Netherlands for a gold medal and 77th win in 78 international bouts.
Why it Mattered: Shields is the first American boxer, female or male, to win gold medals at two consecutive Olympic Games. She won her first gold medal as a 17-year-old when women’s boxing made its debut in the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Fun Fact: Shields, who is a big fan of tennis star and three-time Olympic gold medalist Serena Williams, is the first of her family to graduate from high school. She did so in 2013 at Flint Northwestern High School. Her journey to become a gold medalist in 2012 was the inspiration for the award-winning documentary: “T-Rex: Her Fight for Gold.”
What’s Next: She has not ruled out the possibility of returning to Tokyo in 2020 for a run at a third consecutive gold medal. Shields also has the opportunity to turn professional.

Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1990. He is Olympics editor and Assistant Sports Editor at the Cape Cod Times in Massachusetts. Bowker has written for TeamUSA.org since 2010 as a freelance contributor on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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Simone Biles

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Gwen Jorgensen

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Claressa Shields