Rio 2016: Root for this incredible, politically vocal fencer today

Kelsey McKinney
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Every day of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Fusion is highlighting a handful of the games’ thousands of diverse athletes. They won’t always be Americans, but they will always be worthy of your cheers.

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Ibtihaj Muhammad

United States, fencing
When she's competing: Monday, August 8 at 8:00 a.m. and Saturday, August 13 at 8:00 a.m.

As soon as Ibtihaj Muhammad steps out for her Olympic debut this morning, she'll have made history. Muhammad is the first Muslim woman to compete for the United States wearing a hijab. Muhammad won the silver medal at Worlds in 2014 and is expected to be an outside contender for a medal in Rio. In addition to being an excellent fencer, Muhammad is also a badass. She's fenced with Michelle Obama and—in an Olympic press conference yesterday— called out GOP nominee Donald Trump for racist remarks. She told the NBC Olympic Commission that she's hoping to inspire others: "For me, I'm doing it for other minorities like myself who may have been told at some point when they were younger or even now that it's not something they can do, and for them to believe they can."

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Katie Ledecky

United States, swimmer
When she's competing: Monday, August 8 at 12:02 p.m. and Thursday, August 11 at 12:26 p.m.


No coverage of the Rio 2016 Olympics is complete without Katie Ledecky's name in lights. Already, only a few days in, Ledecky is sporting 2 medals—a silver for her participation in the women's 4 x 100 relay, and a gold in the Women's 400 meter freestyle.  19-year-old Ledecky is a force to be reckoned with. This Olympics, her name is even being tossed around in comparisons to Michael Phelps. And Ledecky still has two events left: the 200 meter freestyle and the 800 meter freestyle. She is a favorite to medal in both.

Kelsey McKinney is a culture staff writer for Fusion.

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