What are Team USA athletes — Olympians, Paralympians, hopefuls and more — 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 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."
100 Days And Counting
This past week, the Rio Games made their presence felt to a degree so many of us had been waiting for: 100 days out. In the words of Olympic gold medalist swimmer Summer Sanders, This is when it gets real...when your head hits the pillow and you dream of AMAZING moments!. For Team USA, this isn't much more than three months left to prepare for some of the biggest days of their lives. Some have been there before. Some know it's their last shot. Some will become household names. And while so many of us caught some of the action from Times Square or through many media timelines, here's a closer look at the feeling of #100DaysOut from the perspective of what it meant to the athletes.
For recently qualified (and two-time Olympian) canoeist Casey Eichfeld, it began in a room with a view of Times Square.
Eichfeld then made his way to the Toast to Team USA event at the Museum of Modern Art on Tuesday evening:
By early the next morning, Eichfeld and his sensible and stylish hat were in the thick of the action:
Eichfeld's takeaway? In a classy statement posted on Instagram: "I am proud to be an athlete for @teamusa, and I'm equally as proud to be a part of a group encouraging youth to be active and healthy!! This 100 Days Out event was unforgettable!!! I've met so many athletes, made new friends, have new sports to cheer for, and have had so much fun along the way!!!! There are no complaints from this United States canoeist!!!!!" By Thursday evening, he was already home with training on his mind.
Like Eichfeld, Paralympic wheelchair racer Aaron Pike also found a surfboard photo op on Tuesday evening at MoMA:
Olympic gold medalist water polo player Courtney Mathewson captured a sense of the calm before the Wednesday morning storm in Times Square:
About to kick off the #100daysout celebration in Times Square! #RoadToRio pic.twitter.com/f9S0DY6FBV— Courtney Mathewson (@CLKMathewson) April 27, 2016
Wednesday didn't suffer from star power, either. Take a moment to think about all the Olympic moments in this golden selfie from Olympic gold medalist diver David Boudia (along with nine-time Olympic gold medalist track and field legend Carl Lewis and Olympic gold medalist gymnast Nastia Liukin), whose selfie looks good from a second angle, too:
Honored to light up the @EmpireStateBldg in USA colors w/ Olympic Legends @Carl_Lewis @NastiaLiukin pic.twitter.com/DUsLixYvB7— David Boudia (@davidboudia) April 27, 2016
En garde with Jason Pryor, Miles Chamley-Watson and Ibtihaj Muhammad, who later fenced with First Lady Michelle Obama:
Olympic champion and multiple-medal threat in Rio Allyson Felix made it a family affair:
Great time on The Today Show with my amazing mom! No matter what I face she is always here for me. #ThankYouMom pic.twitter.com/IlQiZ7CmYS— Allyson Felix (@allysonfelix) April 27, 2016
So many of Team USA's athletes in New York for the event came away sharing their heartfelt thanks, including high-flying trampoline gymnast Jeff Gluckstein:
What a spectacular 100 Days Out has been. Blessed to have spent it with so many amazing talented athletes! #Rio2016 @TeamUSA @USAGym— Jeff Gluckstein (@jeffgluckstein) April 27, 2016
As did, with gratitude, diver Steele Johnson:
What an incredible day. Thank you to @TeamUSA for letting me take part in the #100DaysOut festivities in NYC! I love this team 😄🇺🇸 #TeamUSA— Steele Johnson (@Steele_Johnson) April 28, 2016
There was more than enough room for fun, too. Thank you, bearded wonders Brad Snyder, the Paralympic star swimmer, and Seth Weil of USRowing.
Fear the beard! @BradSnyderUSA and @usrowing's Seth Weil in Times Square #100DaysOut pic.twitter.com/wxHLxEOEDl— U.S. Paralympics (@USParalympics) April 27, 2016
Olympic medalist volleyball player Courtney Thompson may have had more fun than most:
Four-time Olympic triathlete Hunter Kemper wasn't in the Times Square mix, but he was in the spirit:
Oh, And Don't Forget ...
... to train. A 100 Days Out celebration wasn't going to get in the way of saber fencer Dagmara Wozniak, who in March became the 50th athlete to qualify for Rio, on a workout day.
Four-time Olympic champion Sanya Richards-Ross announced retirement plans ("I am so excited to celebrate with one last lap around the world and I hope you will follow along"), which, of course, prompted a great deal of reaction. Including from a contemporary, who had a little fun with the news.
Marquise Goodwin's Road to Rio has included the 2012 London Games as a long jumper and 24 games in the NFL as a wide receiver. But it hasn't always been easy. Over the weekend, he'd posted this: "The environment I grew up in was supposed to break me... It made me stronger"
Going forward, may the wind be at his back, and his hurdles be this easy to clear:
Life's challenges wouldn't be called "hurdles" if there wasn't a way to get over them. #HurdleHops #GoodWinSZN pic.twitter.com/CIotXhx1xf— Marquise Goodwin (@flashg88dwin) April 26, 2016
No Slowing McFadden
Eleven-time Paralympic medalist Tatyana McFadden has enjoyed a remarkable few weeks. On April 18, the wheelchair marathon star won Boston. Again. On April 21, she celebrated a birthday. On April 23, she won London's marathon. Again. To the victor went some spoils, too:
On Wednesday, she was back in New York for #100DaysOut, managing a selfie trifecta with The Band Perry.
Filed under "elite athlete problems" would be regular visits from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Part of the charm in these visits is that they often take place at the crack of dawn. But, if Olympic fencing star Mariel Zagunis is being honest, these visits mean a great deal.
My #USADA Doping Control Officer Monica visited me for the last time a few days ago...no, that doesn't mean I'm no longer getting drug tested 😆😆 She is moving from Portland and won't be able to surprise me anymore by knocking on my door at 6am! For years this woman tracked me down at various locations and watched me pee into a cup, and now a new DCO will take her place. Never thought I'd say this but it was bitter sweet saying goodbye to this 'stranger' with whom I was so familiar and that to this day must keep her face anonymous from the rest of the world 😆😆😆 #TeamUSA #RoadToRio #dopingcontrol #drugfree #ICompeteClean #athlete #fencerproblems #fencing #fencer #fechten #scherma #escrime #esgrima
A year ago, Team USA celebrated the wedding of a pair of Olympians, silver medalist ice dancer Tanith Belbin and gold medalist ice dancer Charlie White. A pair of Team USA's most active social media follows chimed in with their congratulations:
Happy one year anniversary @TanithWhite & @CharlieaWhite! Just the beginning of a lifetime of happiness! 🌷— Meryl Davis (@Meryl_Davis) April 25, 2016
Happy 1 year to the coolest of couples! @TanithWhite @CharlieaWhite pic.twitter.com/Dt5mCkyqib— Alex Shibutani (@AlexShibutani) April 25, 2016
Fastest Man In Rugby
Carlin Isles is one of the fastest athletes anywhere to be found on the Team USA landscape, but the football-player-turned-rugby-player slowed down long enough to be caught working on an underrated skill in all sports: his balance.
For a sense of Isles' quicks, check out the highlight reel posted earlier this month by USA Sevens.
For a racing fan on the scale of Olympic gold medalist and Rio hopeful swimmer Tyler Clary, this ranks as an all-timer of a day. Clary's ride-along program came courtesy NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Catching up with @RutledgeWood before jumping in the car today with @jimmiejohnson and @NBCOlympics @NBCSports pic.twitter.com/Drnu12k5qN— Tyler Clary (@TylerClary) April 27, 2016
Gentlemen, start your engine.
Here we go! @Rutledgewood sending me and @jimmiejohnson off!!! @loweshomeimprovement @lowesracing pic.twitter.com/Lw1WN2wQ1a— Tyler Clary (@TylerClary) April 27, 2016
Thoughts And Prayers
Recently retired high jumper Jamie Nieto, a two-time Olympian and a four-time national champion, suffered a severe injury this past week, leaving him unable to walk and requiring emergency spine surgery. Dozens of Team USA athletes have rallied to support Nieto, who had reportedly recently cancelled his health insurance.
Reaching out to all my friends and my Olympic family.... @jamienieto has been partially paralyzed due to a fall that resulted in a severe injury to his spine. With no health insurance he needs our help. If you can please donate. Quite simply he's just an AMAZING guy that deserves our support. Link in bio
Sending thoughts and best wishes to Olympian @JamieNieto. Please help a fellow Olympian in his time of need. https://t.co/IA5zvzQN2X— Janet Evans (@janetevans) April 29, 2016
Always an inspiration @JamieNieto! 💪🏼❤️ https://t.co/L3rFvfAbSu— Kara Goucher (@karagoucher) April 28, 2016
.@JamieNieto is srsly injured and needs help. Great guy who has always worked to improve himself and the sport. https://t.co/V4Pe0PwBDg— Ashton Eaton (@AshtonJEaton) April 25, 2016
Want to ask my followers to please send a prayer out for Team USA's own Jamie Nieto. He suffered an spinal injury & is currently in surgery— Queen Harrison (@goQueengo) April 23, 2016
2 x Olympian @JamieNieto suffered an injury partially paralyzing him— Lolo Jones (@lolojones) April 27, 2016
Link to donate https://t.co/FmnqEBsvHe pic.twitter.com/YnvYBBJgJy
Nieto appeared in an emotional video posted this past Wednesday, and it's worth watching the entire 3:26 message of hope and love.
Because It's The Cup
Olympic soccer player Brian McBride may have played his college soccer in St. Louis, but he was born in Arlington Heights, Illinois, which is also known as Chicago Blackhawks country. So, on Monday night during Game 7, a game featuring Team USA Olympians Kevin Shattenkirk (St. Louis), David Backes (St. Louis) and Patrick Kane (Chicago), his allegiances were clear.
Go @NHLBlackhawks!! The mighty Blackhawks!! https://t.co/blJPqrei8l— Brian McBride (@BMcBride20) April 26, 2016
Taylor Twellman, on the other hand, was raised in St. Louis, and attended Saint Louis University High School. The rooting interests of Twellman, who played for Team USA's Under-17 and Under-20 teams, and made senior appearances from 2002-08, were also clear.
LETS GO @StLouisBlues LETS GO @StLouisBlues #Game7 #STLvCHI— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) April 26, 2016
In this case, Twellman took the win when St. Louis beat the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks.
So much respect for @NHLBlackhawks just such a tough team to beat but FINALLY @StLouisBlues did it. Onto Round 2!!!! #NHLPlayoffs #STLvCHI— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) April 26, 2016
Simone Biles Needs Some Sleep
I'm so tired that I just tried to text myself ... wow— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) April 28, 2016