2015 was a good year for Team USA — especially the women, who seemed to dominate most of the top headlines this year. From the U.S. winning the Women’s World Cup to gymnast Simone Biles continuing to break records and win an unprecedented number of medals, the Road to Rio is off to a successful start. To see what other victories, announcements, birthdays, food talk, trends and more had people talking, here are the top 15 most-read TeamUSA.org stories of 2015.
1. The U.S. Gymnastics Team Triumphs On Its Road To Rio
Gymnastics seemed to be all anyone could talk about this year. And with a team that seemed to be winning at every stop, it was easy to see why this was the most read topic on the website. The most exciting — and most read — story was the one announcing the men’s and women’s teams who had qualified for the 2016 Olympics. The one introducing the women’s worlds team was almost as popular as the news that the girls had won their third straight world gymnastics title, making them a heavy favorite to bring home gold at the Rio Olympics this summer.
2. Soccer Star Abby Wambach Says Farewell On Her Own Terms
Soccer star Abby Wambach making headlines is nothing new. But when one of the world’s greatest players announces she has made the decision to end her career, everyone wants to know the details. So after the final whistle blew on her final game on Dec. 16, the U.S. Women’s National Team captain talked about her teammates and the people whom she credited for letting her go out on her own terms. And even though her future won’t have her on the field in Rio, she is looking forward to staying involved in soccer through her foundation and in her new spot cheering from the sidelines.
3. Kyle Snyder Becomes Youngest U.S. Wrestling World Champion
When Kyle Snyder won the 2015 World Wrestling Championships in September, suddenly everyone wanted to know who he was. Hoping to become one of the greatest wrestlers that ever lived, the 19-year-old was well on his way when he became USA Wrestling’s youngest-ever world champion and the youngest U.S. medalist of any color. The win was a dream for the wrestler who had only been serious about the sport for five years. His next big obstacle is earning a spot on the Rio team when he competes at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials this spring.
4. Fuel For Champions: What Triathletes Eat
Riding a bike for almost 25 miles seems unimaginable to most people. But when you add on a six-mile run and a mile swim, everyone wanted to know, how do triathletes do it? In this story, we learned that everything from their training down to their equipment is important for these Team USA athletes to compete at their best. And equally essential is the food they put into their bodies. So we asked four of Team USA’s top female triathletes to take us through their pre-race and post-race meals. Most surprising? Learning that ice cream and fries make it into their diets.
5. Getting To Know The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team
The U.S. was excited to watch the women of the national team go after their third Women’s World Cup title, especially since it had been 16 years since their last win. But who were the women to watch out for, and what were they like off the field? Two of the more popular stories uncovered interesting facts about the team going for the win and found out everything from which teammate was the funniest, to who was deemed most superstitious and why.
6. Michael Phelps Opens Winter Nationals With 60th U.S. Title
It’s hard to imagine a swimmer with 22 Olympic medals ever being disappointed in his performance, especially after a win. But the most-decorated Olympian of all time was just that after taking first place at the AT&T Winter National Championships earlier this month. Michael Phelps’ triumph in the 200-meter individual medley made it his 60th national title, but the swimmer explained he still had a long way to go on his road to the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games. The father-to-be also won his 61st and 62nd U.S. titles at that event.
7. Team USA Athletes Reveal The Reasons Why They Are Not Cool
Team USA athletes were very honest when they were asked to explain why they were not cool — for the “We Are All Uncool” movement, which was started by the sister of 2014 Olympic short track speedskater Eddy Alvarez and for the purpose of getting people to stop apologizing for who they are. The first story featured everyone from snowboarder Kelly Clark (who admitted to wearing a face mask because she was insecure about her acne) to hurdler and bobsledder Lolo Jones (who said she wears the same bra size as her 12-year-old niece). The second time we asked Olympians, Paralympians and hopefuls (like gymnast Simone Biles and triathlete Gwen Jorgensen) to spill their secrets, the story was also very popular.
8. Allison Schmitt Opens Up About Post-Olympic Depression
After losing her cousin to suicide in May, Olympic swimmer Allison Schmitt shocked everyone when she opened up about her battle with depression. The six-time medalist revealed she fell into a post-Olympic slump after London in 2012 and it was almost two years before she could talk about it publicly. She admitted that her reason for opening up was in the hopes that it could help someone else. Schmitt also made an impressive comeback in the pool in 2015, winning Pan American Games gold medals and national titles.
9. Gymnast Simone Biles Continues To Be Unbeatable
Last year Simone Biles was the most-read story on the site after winning back-to-back all-around world titles. This year the gymnast who hasn’t lost a meet of any kind in more than two years continued to be unstoppable when she secured another world all-around title, making her the first woman to win three straight titles. Two months earlier she was also featured in another widely-read story when she added another record to her already long list: first woman in 23 years to win three national titles.
10. Days After Amputation No. 2, Paralympian Burdick Circling A Comeback Date
For those looking for an inspiring story, they didn’t have to look any further than that of Tyler Burdick. After the Navy hospital corpsman injured his legs when a roadside bomb tore apart his armored vehicle while serving in Afghanistan, he went on to become a Paralympic snowboarder. So it seemed only fitting that the strong-willed athlete was motivated to get back on his board not long after having the lower portions of both of his legs amputated (one in September 2014, the other January 2015) as a result of the injuries he sustained back in 2010. He credited his time in the military as the reason why he is so determined.
11. U.S. Rhythmic Gymnastics Group The Last To Know After Qualifying For First Olympic Games
Everyone was excited to learn that for the first time the United States qualified a rhythmic gymnastics group for the Olympic Games — even if the gymnasts themselves were the last to know. The U.S. also had a group at the 1996 Games, thanks to the automatic host country spot. At the World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships, the group learned that it would be representing the U.S. at the Olympics in Rio and the dream was suddenly more than just wishful thinking. The group — which has been together for three years — also took home a gold medal at the Pan American Games in the six clubs/two hoops final and silver in the all-around and five ribbons finals in July.
12. 20 McKayla Maroney Faces To Celebrate Her 20th Birthday
In honor of Olympic- and world-champion gymnast McKayla Maroney’s 20th birthday we took a look back at 20 of her most famous faces — since it didn’t seem fair to celebrate her without celebrating her infamous “not impressed” face she gifted to the world after winning silver at the 2012 London Olympics. From shock to focus, see the Olympic gymnast face off against herself.
13. The Women's World Cup Final And The Exciting Outcome
Four years ago when Japan upset the U.S., preventing it from winning the 2011 Women’s World Cup, it was a devastating loss. And even though the Team USA women successfully sought revenge a year later when they beat Japan at the gold-medal match at the London 2012 Olympic Games, they were determined to continue their winning streak. Readers were riveted by the rivalry, so it was easy to see why another popular piece on the site was when the women followed through with that promise and took home the gold trophy.
14. U.S. Olympic Committee Announces 621-Member 2015 U.S. Pan American Team
The announcement of the 2015 U.S. Pan American Games and the names of the 621 athletes who would be competing in Toronto over the summer garnered not only a lot of interest, but also a lot of excitement. In the end, the U.S. sent almost an equal amount of men and women (319 men and 302 women) to represent the country. Included in the squad was 110 Olympians, 37 of whom were medalists and 20 gold-medal winners.
15. 15-Year-Old Weightlifting Prodigy CJ Cummings Is Youngest At World Championships
CJ Cummings might be a relative newcomer in the sport of weightlifting, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t already well-known. In this story, we met the youngest athlete at the IWF World Weightlifting Championships. Despite falling short of his goal of breaking the youth men’s world record at the event, the 15-year-old had already set an impressive 18 national records, with one senior record still belonging to the up-and-comer. It’s easy to see why he has already been compared to other sporting greats like LeBron James and Michael Jordan.