Time Magazine has released the 2021 edition of its highly anticipated prestigious annual 100 Most Influential People list and amongst those who get the coveted honors are athletes: Simone Biles, the most decorated gymnast of all time, Naomi Osaka, four-time Grand Slam singles champion, Most decorated U.S Olympic track and field star Allyson Felix, Shohei Ohtani, Japanese professional baseball pitcher, and Seven-time Superbowl champion, Tom Brady.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is the only Nigerian in 2021 The Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the world.
Other honourees include President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Britney Spears, Lil Nas X Angelique Kidjo, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Duke and Duchess of Sussex Prince Harry, and Meghan Markle amongst others.
In the feature, the ever-iconic 23 grand slam champ Serena Williams was full of praise for Simone Biles;
“What she embodies truly reflects the endless potential of Black women,” wrote Williams. “I wish I had her to look up to when I was younger and trying to realize my dreams.”
“By living her truth so loudly and by championing mental health, she is setting new standards of beauty, streng,th and resilience, breaking down today’s image-obsessed stereotypes and encouraging others to do the same,” Williams concludes in her essay. “Simone is a shining example of what success looks like when you let go of what the world thinks and gather your strength from yourself … from your soul.”
Prince Harry and Meghan also hailed Okonjo-Iweala as a strong leader:
“What will it take to vaccinate the world? Unity, cooperation—and leaders like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala,” wrote Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, in the post accompanying Okonjo-Iweala’s selection.
“As the first African and first woman to lead the World Trade Organization, a 164-member group of nations that oversees trade across the world, Okonjo-Iweala took on the role of director-general this March at a watershed moment for our global health and well-being. Make no mistake, her job affects every person, fami,ly and community.
“As we face a constant barrage of vaccine misinformation, bureaucratic slowdowns across both government and industry, and the rise of variants that underscore the urgency of the situation, Okonjo-Iweala has shown us that to end the pandemic, we must work together to equip every nation with equitable vaccine access.”
Prince Harry and Meghan said their “conversations with her have been as informative as they are energizing. This is partly because, despite the challenges, she knows how to get things done—even between those who don’t always agree—and does so with grace and a smile that warms the coldest of rooms.
“The fragility of our world right now cannot be overstated. Just over a quarter of the nearly 8 billion global population is fully vaccinated.
“Achieving vaccine equity is a global duty of compassion for one another. Our hope is that guided by strong leaders like Ngozi, we can get there soon.”