A new year is upon us, and what a year 2016 is set to be for sports. Especially with the Rio Olympics just around the corner. Which is why we’ve put together a list of up-and-coming female sport stars that we think you should keep an eye on this year. Indeed, by the end of 2016 these ladies might just be some of the biggest sport superstars around.


Danuta Kozak is a Hungarian sprint canoer who is set to make a massive splash at this year’s Olympic games. In London 2012 Kozak won gold medals in both the kayak single 500m and the woman’s kayak four final. Add to that the fact this lady, who has a degree in horticulture, got a silver medal back at Beijing 2008 and you can only imagine what she’ll achieve this year.


Paige VanZant is an athlete that never gives up – in her December MMA fight against Rose Namajunas the 21-year-old continued to fight even when she was left covered in blood. This may have been the kind of fight that would put other women off the sport for life, but for VanZant she was left feeling full of positivity after reading all the praising articles about her performance in the media. The fighter, who was undefeated up until her December fight, is ready to get back into the Octagon and we suspect she’ll be striving towards a title very soon.


The world of women’s tennis is often be dominated by the Williams sisters, but a new female star is rising in the ranks – Eugenie Bouchard. Now the blonde bombshell may have just crashed out the Australian Open, but considering the star is still recovering from a head injury we can forgive her for now. The rank 37 player is definitely one to watch in the rest of the year’s big tournaments.


Poker might not be the first sport you think of, but this is a game that requires a substantial level of mental agility and stamina. Perhaps more well-known for her role in acting, Jennifer Tilly has been making a name for herself over the last decade in the male dominated world of poker. In an interview, she explained that female poker players are often underestimated by male opponents, and given that she’s previously won a World Series of Poker bracelet and made it to the finals of many tournaments over the years, we’re inclined to believe her. Not long returned from retirement, Tilly is now a contender for this year’s Poker Hall of Fame.


Chinese diver Si Yajie has been making the sports headlines from an incredibly young age, winning a gold medal at the 2013 World Aquatics Championships in the woman’s 10m platform dive. She was only fourteen at the time! Now set to make the trip to Rio this summer, it will be very surprising if this future superstar doesn’t bring home a few medals from her Olympic debut.


Featured image via Zwemza