Ever wonder what your favorite Team USA athletes — Olympians, Paralympians, hopefuls and more — are up to when they're not competing? They're training. They're practicing. They're traveling to competitions and meets and games and tournaments. They're relaxing. They're getting engaged and married. They're taking hard-earned vacations. They're coping with the raw emotions that come from losing and celebration of winning. And they're sharing. Through the reach of social media, we're able to follow along on their often extraordinary journeys. We'll catch you up each week on what's "Red, White & Trending."
And, after a 2015 Pan American Games hiatus, one that included a grand total of 265 medals for Team USA athletes in Toronto, "Red, White & Trending" is back to its weekly edition. While we were away, another Team USA, that with its sights set on Rio in 2016, began to take shape. Now just over a year out from the Opening Ceremony, three open water swimmers qualified within the past week: 2012 Olympic silver medalist Haley Anderson by way of a top-10 finish in the women's 10K race at the FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia, Sean Ryan and Jordan Wilimovsky. Wilimovsky won gold in the men's 10-kilometer swim, while Ryan finished fourth. Wilimovsky became the first American to win gold in the event since 2005. It wasn't long before they were hearing congratulations.
Josh White, associate head swimming coach at the University of Michigan, where Ryan was a five-time NCAA All-American, may have had the most unique timeline take on things:
It appeared to have the makings of a traditional ceremonial first pitch when Olympic gold medal gymnast Shawn Johnson wound up prior to this past Friday night's Cubs game in Chicago. That is, until she followed the pitch with a handstand … and a proposal. Johnson's boyfriend, rookie NFL long snapper Andrew East, who later admitted he was indeed quite nervous, popped the question on the grass at Wrigley, and the Olympic champion offered an enthusiastic yes.
Two days later, Johnson remained more than a little upbeat.
We learned earlier this week that Olympic sprinter Allyson Felix would run the 400-meter at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing this August, but not the 200-meter, the distance in which she won gold in London (plus silver at the 2008 Beijing Games and 2004 Athens Games, as well as three world championship golds in 2005, 2007 and 2009).
Felix had run the 200 at every world championships since 2001, but she decided to pick one for Beijing, where the 400 final is scheduled for less than two hours after the 200 semifinals, and has embraced the challenge.
There remains a chance, too, that Felix would attempt to run the 200 and the 400 in Rio.
"I Was Told I Could Never Do This"
Part of six-time Olympic swimming gold medalist Amy Van Dyken-Rouen's bio now includes the line, due to an ATV accident, "T-12 paraplegic as of 6/6/14." In other words, it wasn't all that long ago that she was lying in a hospital bed and wondering whether she would ever walk again.
She said she would.
This past week, over the span of a few posts, her story added another encouraging chapter. She has now, through this new story, become an inspiration to many.
Along with her women's soccer teammates, Megan Rapinoe enjoyed a pretty good month of July. For starters, there was the Women's World Cup win that captured so much of the country's attention over the Fourth of July holiday. Weeks later, the fun continues. For Rapinoe, that meant taking a thrill ride with the Blue Angles.
Draining? You bet.
Rapinoe's teammate and fellow gold medalist Abby Wambach has a decision to make, and she talked about it candidly this week during an appearance on a Rochester, New York, television station. According to Wambach, she had been "planning on playing in Rio next summer."
Ultimately, though, the decision on her future may not totally reside with her, something she later acknowledged:
Using His Head
When you compete at an elite level in a total of 10 events over the course of two days, you're going to have to make the most of what downtime the schedule provides. Decathlon gold medalist and world-record holder Ashton Eaton may have found a new key to staying fresh, courtesy an innovative team at Nike. Behold, the the cooling hood: