10 Olympians Who Will Make History Before They Even Compete In Rio

Meet the athletes breaking barriers this Olympics.
Ibtihaj Muhammad, first Team USA athlete to compete in a hijab.
Ibtihaj Muhammad, first Team USA athlete to compete in a hijab.
Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

This year’s Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, which kick off on Aug. 5, will surely be filled with some historic moments. Golf will return to the games for the first time since 1904, and amateur and professional boxers will be come face-to-face in the ring. And of course, sporting records in all events will be set and broken for the first time.

But what about the athletes who are setting records before they even compete? This year, there are several Olympians coming to Rio who will be the first of their kind ― from the oldest woman to compete in gymnastics, to the first black woman to play on the U.S. Water Polo team. Below are some of the most impressive athletes changing the game just by showing up:

Jo Pavey, Oldest Track-And-Field Athlete Ever
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Jo Pavey, representing team Great Britain, has the distinction of being the oldest track athlete in Olympic history (she is 42). In 2014, she became the oldest woman to win gold in competition at the European Championships.
Ashleigh Johnson, First Black Woman To Compete In Water Polo
Lucy Nicholson / Reuters
Ashleigh Johnson, 21, will be the first black woman ever to compete on the U.S. Women's Water Polo team. A native of Miami, Florida, Johnson will serve as goalkeeper for the team in Rio.
Ibtihaj Muhammad, First U.S. Athlete To Compete In A Hijab
Lucy Nicholson / Reuters
Muhammad, a 30-year-old native of Maplewood, New Jersey, will represent Team USA in sabre fencing in Rio. She is the first woman on Team USA to compete while wearing a hijab, a headscarf worn by some Muslim women.
Bernard Lagat, Oldest U.S. Athlete To Compete In Track
Kent Horner via Getty Images
At 41, Bernard Lagat will be the oldest Team USA athlete to compete in running. Lagat, born in Kenya and a naturalized citizen of America, is also the second-oldest U.S. athlete to compete in running ever.
Yusra Mardini And The First-Ever Refugee Olympic Team
Michael Dalder / Reuters
Yusra Mardini is an 18-year-old swimmer from Syria. She's also a refugee. For the first time in Olympic history, she and several other refugee athletes will not compete under the Syrian flag but as the Refugee Olympic Team.
Oksana Chusovitina, Oldest Competing Female Gymnast
Brian Snyder / Reuters
Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan, 41, will make history in Rio by becoming the oldest woman to compete in gymnastics. She's poised to compete against gymnasts (like Laurie Hernandez) less than half her age.
Lia Neal And Simone Manuel, First Black Female Swim Duo On Team USA
Kevin C. Cox via Getty Images
Lia Neal, 21, and Simone Manuel, 19, are Stanford students making history in the swimming category at the Olympics. It's the first time two black women will compete in Olympic swimming for Team USA at the same time. The duo will be competing on the 4x100 freestyle team.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article said Lia Neal And Simone Manuel were the first black swimmers in Olympic history to represent the USA. This is the first year two black female swimmers have represented the USA at the Olympics at the same time. Other black swimmers have participated in the games for Team USA. The article also said this was the first year golf would be included in the games; it is returning to the games for the first time since 1904.

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