8 Uncommon Heroes Who Shined Bright at the 2016 Rio Olympics

A gold medal-winning makeup artist, a 61-year-old equestrian and more.

The 2016 Olympics in Rio were nothing short of eventful. Michael Phelps introduced us to cupping. People proposed to each other. Ryan Lochte got dragged to the front of the class and that hot flag bearer from Tonga finally let the world see his abs. But in the midst of veteran athletes continuing on their golden streaks and the tomfoolery that inevitably occurs when tens of thousands of sweaty people are in the same place, heroes emerged to stake their claims.

We’re putting the spotlight on the female athletes who put stereotypes to shame at the 2016 Olympics. From gold medal-winning shot put athlete and makeup artist Michelle Carter to 61-year-old equestrian Mary Hanna, these are the uncommon heroes who tore down boundaries at the Rio Olympics.

  • Simone Manuel, Swimming

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    Simone Manuel won at the 100-meter freestyle in Rio, making her the first African-American woman to win individual swimming gold.

  • Ibtihaj Muhammad, Saber Fencing

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    Ibtihaj Muhammad is the first Team USA athlete to wear a hijab while competing at the Olympics. Muhammad, 30, won bronze at this year’s women’s team saber fencing event in Rio.

  • Monica Puig, Tennis

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    Monica Puig’s gold medal win in Rio made her both the first athlete to win gold for her homeland of Puerto Rico and the first female Olympic medalist to compete for the country. Puig won gold in women’s singles tennis.

  • Mary Hanna, Equestrian

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    Mary Hanna became the oldest Olympian to compete for Australia at this year’s Rio Olympics. Hanna is 61 years old. She’s also exactly 125 days older than Bill Roycroft, previously the oldest Australian Olympic equestrian, was at the 1976 Olympics.

  • Michelle Carter, Shot put

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    Michelle Carter is the first American woman to win gold at the Olympic shot put event. Aside from being a gold-winning Olympic athlete, Carter is a makeup artist, a motivational speaker and a self-proclaimed diva.

  • Sarah Robles, Weightlifting

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    Sarah Robles is the strongest woman in the U.S., having won a bronze medal in the super-heavyweight division of the Rio Olympics. Robles’ win makes her the first to win a weightlifting medal of any kind for the U.S. in 16 years.

  • Simone Biles, Gymnastics

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    Simone Biles swept up four gold medals in Rio de Janeiro this year. Biles, 19, won Olympic gold in the individual all-around, vault and floor events, and was a part of the gold-winning gymnastics team called The Final Five. Biles is the “first female gymnast since 1974 to win four consecutive all-around titles at the U.S. national championships,” according to NBC Olympics, and is the “first woman ever to be the all-around world champion three years in a row.” She also holds the record for most world championship medals won by an American woman, with 14 to her name.

  • Ans Botha, Coach

    Ans Botha is the coach of South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk, who won the 400-meter race at the Olympics this year in world record time. Botha used to be a sprinter and a long jumper, and at 74 years old, is a great grandmother to four.

VH1 staffers dish on the hottest athletes at the Olympics this year in the video below.