14 Incredible Olympic Athletes Who Competed While Pregnant

by Madison Medeiros
Feb 7, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. ET

For centuries, pregnant women were scared into believing that exercise of any kind could cause lasting damage to their unborn children. Confined to their couches or beds, many women existed in a sedentary state for nine excruciatingly long months, all the while fearing that the very bodies used for carrying their children would ultimately fail them.Thankfully, time shatters all oppressive taboos eventually.

Flash-forward to 2018, and medical professionals now actively encourage their pregnant patients to work up a sweat to reduce back pain, keep their digestive systems regular, reduce stress and improve their overall health. While many women opt to hit the mat in prenatal yoga classes or take a dip in the pool, some overachievers have taken exercise to the next level by competing — and in a few instances, reigning victorious — in the Olympic Games. Of course, most doctors advise pregnant women to skip the contact sports (like, you know, ice hockey) for the time being, but at a certain point, it seems there's no stopping Olympians.

With the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics right around the corner, let's take a look back at the amazing feats past competitors have accomplished while pregnant. 

1 /14: Amelie Kober

1/14 :Amelie Kober

Amelie Kober was only 22 when she hit the slopes with her snowboard — and eight-week-old embryo — at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. According to Reuters, Kober decided not to continue competing after taking a bad fall. She ultimately took eighth place, which she told Reuters was "not too bad" because she was "going to have much better news in a few months." 

2/14 :Anita Spring

When you normally think of the volleyball phrase “bump, set, spike,” you think of athletes setting up an epic play. But for Australian Olympian Anita Spring, there was another "bump" in the game: her growing belly. Spring played beach volleyball in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, while four months pregnant.

3 /14: Anky van Grunsven

3/14 :Anky van Grunsven

Anky Van Grunsven is a rock star in the equestrian world, with three Olympic gold medals under her, um, saddle. Perhaps even more impressive than her ability to choreograph a dance for a horse is the fact that she did so while pregnant — at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. 

Now, van Grunsven operates the Anky Education Center, where serious athletes come to train with the best.

4/14 :Diana Sartor

If you’ve ever had morning sickness, you know that taking fast turns or lying on your stomach can only make things worse. But for Diana Sartor, flying head-first down an icy hill while nine weeks pregnant was a thrilling experience. 
The German Olympian placed fourth in skeleton — a competitive form of sledding — at the 2006 Olympics in Italy.

5 /14: Cornelia Pfohl

5/14 :Cornelia Pfohl

Katniss Everdeen isn't the only badass woman who knows her way around a bow and arrow. German archer Cornelia Pfohl is so good, in fact, that she was able to score 18th at the 2004 Olympics in Athens while 30 weeks pregnant — yep, well into her third trimester. Pfohl also competed in the 1996 and 2000 games, winning silver and bronze medals, respectively. 

6/14 :Kim Rhode

Step aside, Annie Oakley. Olympic shotgun shooter Kim Rhode is redefining what it means to be a locked-and-loaded lady. The U.S.-born athlete competed in the 2012 Olympics in London while pregnant, though she didn't know it at the time. 

7 /14: Martina Valcepina

7/14 :Martina Valcepina

For many of us, maintaining our balance on dainty ice skates is a nearly impossible task. Do you too spend most of your time on the rink either falling onto the ice or slamming into the side railing? Yeah, us too. 

But then there are skaters like Martina Valcepina, who can slice through the ice like no one's business. Valcepina won a bronze medal at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, while pregnant — with twins. How's that for balance? 

8/14 :Mara Navarria

Perhaps the saying should go, “The woman is mightier than the sword.” Italian fencer Mara Navarria may not have won a medal during the 2012 Olympic Games in London, but she absolutely didn’t return home a loser. Shortly after competing, Navarria learned she was pregnant with her first child, Samuele.

9 /14: Magda Julin

9/14 :Magda Julin

Think only modern athletes are daring enough to compete while pregnant? Think again! Swedish figure skater Magda Julin won a gold medal four months into her pregnancy at the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium. She also proved that you don't need to don a sequin-covered leotard to look darn good on the ice. 

10 /14: Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi

10/14 :Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi

Kim Rhode wasn't the only pregnant shooter at the 2012 Olympics. According to The New York Times, Malaysian shooter Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi competed in the 10-round air rifle competition while eight months pregnant with a baby girl. Wowza.

11 /14: Kerri Walsh Jennings

11/14 :Kerri Walsh Jennings

Good things come in threes for five-time Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings. The beach volleyball superstar won her third gold medal while five weeks pregnant with her third child at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Though some women might be nervous to dive into the sand so early on in a pregnancy, Walsh Jennings told Today that the prospect of having another child was what fired her up most. 

"I gave everything I had," she told Today. "At the end of my tunnel was this next phase, expanding my family. I wanted to earn that third." Never underestimate a mom on a mission.

12 /14: Juno Stover-Irwin

12/14 :Juno Stover-Irwin

For four-time Olympian Juno Stover-Irwin (pictured second from the left), diving head-first into new adventures was what thrilled her most. Perhaps that's why the professional diver wasn't afraid to compete in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland, while pregnant with her daughter.

In addition to winning a bronze medal that year, Stover-Irwin later told a reporter that "it turned out to be my best pregnancy." Now that's a win-win.

13 /14: Lisa Brown-Miller

13/14 :Lisa Brown-Miller

Hockey is often regarded as one of the roughest sports, as players often slam each other into the glass, throw punches and take the occasional puck to the face. Understandably, only the toughest athletes, such as Lisa Brown-Miller of the United States, dare to strap on their skates to compete in the first place. But unlike most of those athletes, Brown-Miller was eight weeks pregnant when she helped the United States take home a gold medal at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

14 /14: Kristie Moore

14/14 :Kristie Moore

Think mopping while pregnant is taxing? Imagine how difficult it is to push a heavy stone (38 to 44 pounds according to Time magazine!) across an ice rink. Yet somehow, Canadian Kristie Moore (pictured on the far left) made curling at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver while nearly six months pregnant seem incredibly easy. Moore, along with her other four teammates, even managed to take home the silver medal.