If we've learned anything with increased coverage, we've learned that Team USA's athletes and teams are rarely leading dull lives. Whether it's training hard or goofing around, eating right or oh-so-wrong (for a treat, of course), supporting friends or celebrating victory, they've allowed us a window to their sporting souls. Each week we'll catch you up on some of the lighter moments or lighter takes on the news — often from their very own perspective — that make Team USA so compelling.
What Would Lochte Do?
While the swimming heated up at the Skyline Aquatic Center in Mesa, Arizona, an event that featured Olympic gold-medalist swimming headliners Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky, it was Lochte who decided to cool down in a more recreational part of the facility.
Lochte would go on to win the 200-meter individual medley, with Phelps finishing third (Conor Dwyer finished second), followed about 20 minutes later by Phelps winning in the 100-meter free (with Lochte and Dwyer finishing second and third). Ledecky, meanwhile, swam away from the field en route to four wins on the weekend.
If it's the weekend, Nastia Liukin is thinking about Monday. Of course, the Olympic gold medalist is a favorite to win the "Dancing with the Stars" mirror ball trophy in Season 20, another edition of which will air Monday evening in primetime. And, yes, those appear to be swimmies.
But it wasn't all clowning around over the weekend for Liukin and Co.
Gymnast Vs. NFL Safety, Round 2
At the end of March, big, bruising NFL safety Bernard Pollard, all 6-foot-1 and 226 pounds of him, lost a physical challenge to 4-foot-9 Shawn Johnson. Of course, this was a handstand competition, and Johnson, an Olympic gold-medalist gymnast, knows a thing or two about handstands. (Not surprisingly, in Pollard's words: "I lasted for about 20sec to her FOREVER!")
Well, the pair is at it again. The spark plug gymnast started things off with a Tweet that certainly caught Pollard's attention, leading to the following exchange:
@ShawnJohnson lol!!! So I see you're reaching out to social media for an answer. It's def harder to win a Super Bowl than a Gold Medal! 👅👀— Bernard Pollard Jr (@Crushboy31) April 16, 2015
@Crushboy31 not a chance!— Shawn Johnson (@ShawnJohnson) April 16, 2015
Just 'Do It
You think it's easy to gear up for a gymnastics meet? No, sir. Aside from the endless hours in the gym, the risk of injury, the pressure of an individual event and the almost absurd combination of strength and precision required, there's still more to it than the required uniform. In the case of 2008 Olympic silver medalist Samantha Peszek, there can be a complicated hair event, too. This was the case over the weekend during the NCAA Gymnastics Championships.
Peszek is 'doing something right. Now a senior at UCLA, the Indiana native won the NCAA all-around title (she and Florida's Kytra Hunter tied for first place) on Friday, and she closed out the weekend with an individual title on the balance beam. Then, she called it a career.
It's safe to say I went out with a bang and now........(drumroll please) I'm OFFICIALLY a retired athlete. 😱— Samantha Peszek (@samanthapeszek) April 20, 2015
Olympic javelin thrower Cyrus Hostetler, who is no stranger to rehabbing injuries (including to his knees and his throwing elbow), has a shoulder to rehab these days, and the Oregon native is doing it at his home away from home: the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California.
And, if you were ever wondering what rehab looks like to a world-class athlete with an eye on competing in Rio, it's not easy.
As of this past week, Hostetler said he could make it about 20 meters on his hands.
Tall People Problems
Nathan Adrian, all 6-foot-6 of him, boarded a flight on Sunday evening, bound for … discomfort. Fellow Cal swimming alum and Olympic medalist Caitlin Leverenz didn't exactly go the sympathy route in her quick retort.
“@Nathangadrian:my head touches the overhead bin on this plane while I am sitting down.” I spy w my little eye your head over all the seats.— Caitlin Leverenz (@cleverenz) April 20, 2015
I Believe …
In front of a crowd of more than 60,000, the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team topped Mexico, 2-0, in San Antonio. Though Team USA has now gone six games without losing to Mexico, perhaps the United States owes a small bit of gratitude to 2008 U.S. Olympic Men's Soccer Team midfielder Stuart Holden, who led a spirited rendition of "I believe …"
While watching soccer coverage on television, Holden's fiancee offered some moral support. Sort of: