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  • Kenneth Cotterill

BCMG's Top 20 Female Athletes Of The Last 20 Years: Part One

Updated: Dec 14, 2020

The first twenty years of the century are coming to a close and we have seen some incredible athletic performances and achievements in that time. So the boys at Blue Collar Media Group decided to make a list of the top male and female athletes of the last 20 years. This list is an amalgamation of six lists submitted by BCMG's writers and contributors from the US, Canada and Great Britain. People-based their list off of their own criteria of what an athlete is with the top spot earning an athlete 20 points all the way down to the 20th spot earning them one point. Here is 20 through 16 of our list.

20. Michelle Kwan, Figure Skating (22 points)

Michelle Kwan was quite simply the face of women's figure skating for the early 2000s. Yes, she competed in the 1990s as well, but I would argue her peak came in the 2000s. In the four seasons spanning from 1999 to 2003, Kwan finished first at Worlds three times and second once. She also dominated at competitions, such as Skate America - where she won gold four years in a row - and the Grand Prix of Figure Skating, where she was runner up three times. Kwan also won bronze at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. And while that may have been a disappointing finish given her expectations, she will still go down as one of, if not the best, figure skaters of her time. Grace, artistry, strength and pure athletic ability were personified in Michelle Kwan every time she stepped on the ice. There is a reason she had so many endorsements with major companies like Disney, Coca-Cola and McDonald's. Her excellence was a pleasure to watch. Hats off to you, Michelle, for being such a great ambassador for the sport of figure skating, both on and off the ice.

19. Megan Rapinoe, Soccer (23 points)

She wasn't the first nor the last soccer player to wear the stars and stripes but Megan Rapinoe's impact on USA soccer is something that most who wear the jersey could only dream of having. Her club career has taken her to Sydney, Lyon and the United States, where she has scored a total of 53 goals. However, where Rapinoe truly shines, is on the national stage. To date, she has appeared 168 times and scored 52 goals in international play. Rapinoe led her team to a second place finish at the 2011 Women's World Cup before taking home gold in 2015 and 2019 with the United States Women's National Team. She was the Golden Boot and Golden Ball winner at the 2019 World Cup and was even included in Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in 2020. She is an advocate for numerous LGBT organizations and is one of the most recognizable athletes in her field.

T-17 Lisa Fernandez, Softball (25 points)

Women's softball is not a sport that often gets much love, but Lisa Fernandez definitely deserves her spot among the world's best athletes. This Puerto Rican-American third baseman and pitcher was the face of women's softball in the 2000s and justifiably so. Fernandez won two national titles in college at UCLA in the 1990s before joining the women's national team. On the national team, she had a record of 7-1 in 74.2 innings, with a total of 93 strikeouts. Not only was she a strikeout machine, but she also had a career ERA of 0.37 and a WHIP of 0.36 in her time with the US women's national team. She won the Gold medal at the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Summer Olympics and was a silver medalist as an alternate in 2008. Fernandez is a USA Softball Hall of Fame honouree and was named the greatest college softball player of all time by

T-17. Amanda Nunes, MMA (25 points)

The Lioness ties Lisa Fernandez at number seventeen on our list. Nunes, a Brazilian mixed martial artist, has been incredible to watch rise up the ranks of the UFC. Through 24 professional fights, Nunez is sporting a 20-4 record that includes 13 knockout wins. Since losing her very first professional fight, Nunes has been incredibly dominant in the Bantamweight and Featherweight divisions. In her seven years in the UFC, Nunes has defeated many great fighters including Miesha Tate, Holly Holm, Cris Cyborg and Ronda Rousey. She is currently on a 10 fight win streak and shows no signs of slowing down. While other fighters may get more coverage or attention, there is no doubt that Nunes' ability is unparalleled. She has beaten the best of the best and currently holds the UFC Women's Bantamweight and Featherweight titles - the first female fighter in history to do so.

16. Allyson Felix, Track & Field (26 points)

You cannot talk about women's track and field, especially in the United States, without mentioning Allyson Felix. Felix, like Rapinoe, was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2020 and it is easy to see why given her excellence on the track. Felix has competed at four Olympic games, the first coming in 2004 where she was a silver medalist in the 200 meter dash. Felix went on to win six Olympic gold medals - the only female track and field athlete to ever do so. She is also tied as the most decorated female track and field athlete ever with nine Olympic medals. She is the gold standard in her sport and she is also a participant in the US Anti-Doping Agency's "Project Believe" program. To be that great without cutting corners, in a sport where so many people do, is a testament to her character and greatness.

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