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."
The place to be this past Sunday night may not only have been watching Rio’s Closing Ceremony, but watching timelines of the athletes who participated in one of the most successful Games in U.S. history. Scroll through the highlights …
There were pre-game, getting-ready dance parties …
There were support groups of gold, silver and bronze …
SILVER MEDAL SQUAD. Whaaaaadup. ✌🏻️ pic.twitter.com/IX58hDLogv— Alexandra Raisman (@Aly_Raisman) August 22, 2016
There was inclement weather (that went mostly ignored) …
There were photobombs and selfies …
There were priceless team photos …
There were celebration shots …
Obrigada Rio! pic.twitter.com/8JYOzocBDx— Gevvie Stone (@gevgevs) August 22, 2016
And there were athletes celebrating from home in the coolest way possible, wearing Team USA’s official Closing Ceremony unis …
When it comes to knowing how to manage ALL THOSE MEDALS, a newly reasonable question for perhaps the best gymnast ever, Simone Biles, look no further than 23-time gold medalist Michael Phelps.
michael phelps taught me how to stack my medals— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) August 21, 2016
I guess I have a new job!!😁😁 https://t.co/c87ronjY4V— Michael Phelps (@MichaelPhelps) August 21, 2016
And, if you’re not going to line them up, this works pretty well, too:
🇺🇸 🇧🇷— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) August 21, 2016
outdream yourself pic.twitter.com/VmYjqUpAkt
With Team USA’s Olympic athletes making their way back home, timelines became a place for hometown heroes. Beach volleyball star Phil Dalhausser went from the sand to the water. In style.
Connor Fields and his BMX gold medal didn’t get much past baggage claim as he touched down in Las Vegas.
Noted foodie and Rio triathlon gold medalist Gwen Jorgensen touched down just long enough to splurge on some cupcakes.
Speaking of splurges, Team USA’s field hockey stars scarfed down some serious doughnuts.
Kim Rhode returned not only with yet another Olympic shooting medal, which makes six straight Games, but also … bling!
Gymnast Jake Dalton returned to supportive neighbors.
Silver medalist in women’s single sculls, Gevvie Stone, came home to a warm welcome in Boston.
What can’t Katie Ledecky do? The Rio swimming star took longer to remove all the medals around her neck than it did to throw a borderline strike from the stretch at a recent Nationals game. Impressive.
The Ultimate Return
However, perhaps no re-entry into the “real world” was as enjoyable as that of the U.S. Olympic Women’s Gymnastics Team — which included the “Final Five” of Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian visiting the "TODAY" show, the Empire State building, the Tonight Show and Hamilton.
Cheesin' hard at the Empire State Building 🏙 pic.twitter.com/rTKMHUykiP— Laurie Hernandez ➶ (@lzhernandez02) August 23, 2016
She thought the view was pretty but I thought she was prettier pic.twitter.com/rw35lOsPlz— Laurie Hernandez ➶ (@lzhernandez02) August 23, 2016
catch us on Jimmy Fallon Late Night Show 😜 pic.twitter.com/J9uYIZ6YMn— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) August 23, 2016
The gold rush in Rio also had gold medalists from previous Games getting nostalgic, including 1996 Olympic gold medalist Reggie Miller.
Three-time Olympic gold medalist Heather Mitts was joined by her kids on the walk down memory lane.
All around the Road to Rio — preparing, competing, winning or losing — there was, and is, gratitude. Parents and loved ones, inspirations and training partners are there for the athletes. Through the gift of social media, we also, occasionally, are offered an inside look at the well of gratitude Team USA athletes draw upon while on their journeys. For Rio women’s 53 kg. wrestling champion Helen Maroulis, all 126 pounds of her, that gratitude swelled for those who came before her.
I could not have asked for a better role-model, teammate, and training partner!! @chunk48 thank you for being the most amazing person and helping me prepare this summer. You were literally available 24/7, dedicated so much time and energy, and were such an inspiration throughout the years. You inspired me incredibly when you won the bronze medal in 2012 (and by beating the same girl to avenge your loss from your 2008 bronze medal match). I knew there was no better person to ask help me prepare than the one who has already been there at this level. I remember when I made my first world team and how excited I was to go to Tokyo for the 2008 World Championships on the same team as the amazing Clarissa Chun..and then I watched you win the Worlds! I was too scared to even talk to you back then! I've learned so much from you over the years and I could not have done this without your help! You're the best!!!! ❤️❤️❤️ #womeninsport #redefinefeminine
The Other Side Of A Dream
For all the Olympic dreams realized, dozens were not. If we count the months and years before the Games, the number is in the thousands of athletes who didn’t even make it to Rio. But, for those who did and were expecting to have their lives changed all over again, only to meet with misfortune, the road back was paved not with gold. In an emotionally raw Twitter post, 2012 Olympic pole vaulting champion Jenn Suhr begins with, “The feeling of disappointing yourself is hard to handle. The feeling of disappointing others is even harder......” It’s heart-wrenching to read, but it’s also a window into the soul of the competitive athlete.
The feeling of disappointing yourself is hard to handle. The feeling of disappointing others is even harder...... pic.twitter.com/IbwVnbeihs— Jenn Suhr (@JennSuhr) August 20, 2016
Jordan Burroughs did not defend his wrestling gold medal from London, either. But he certainly cemented his take on a recovery plan.
Sports has a way of humbling even the greatest of champions. I stand up, dust myself off and get back to work. Bent but not broken.— Jordan Burroughs (@alliseeisgold) August 21, 2016
Clearly, the disappointment did not keep him from looking back on Rio with some positive energy.
Until next time Rio! pic.twitter.com/UxCBMl7YFk— Jordan Burroughs (@alliseeisgold) August 23, 2016
Goodbye, For Now
We feel your pain, Lamoureux twins, and we’ll see your Olympic teams in PyeongChang.
So, You’re Saying There’s A Chance …
Whether he makes it to 2020 or not, it appears we’ll have at least a little more of Ashton Eaton excellence to enjoy after his defense of decathlon gold in Rio.
By the way, never said I was retiring, just unlikely I'll go to 2020.— Ashton Eaton (@AshtonJEaton) August 21, 2016
The Next Countdown
Of course, the cauldron being extinguished, in a way, signaled the calm before the storm for Team USA’s Paralympic contingent. Prep, of course, is underway.
Two-time Paralympic medalist and multiple world-record holder Mallory Weggemann:
The time has come to start packing for Rio! Nearly a month on the road down to one duffle bag! Cannot believe I leave on Friday! #RoadToRio— Mallory Weggemann (@malloryweggeman) August 21, 2016
Twelve-time Paralympic gold medalist swimmer Jessica Long:
Sad the Olympics are over? Don't worry! The Paralympics start September 7th 😏 #thanksforthewarmup— Jessica Long (@JessicaLong) August 22, 2016
Three-time Paralympic medalist swimmer Brad Snyder:
Amy Purdy, on the other hand, will not be competing in Rio. But the Paralympic medalist snowboarder will make an impact. Purdy announced earlier this week she will be dancing in the Paralympic Opening Ceremony, and she’s one of the earliest on the scene in Rio, too.
And when Lex Gillette, the three-time Paralympic medalist long jumper, does arrive to compete in Rio, he will do so in style.
Back To Work
For some coming out of Rio, it’s time to relax. But if you’re a track athlete and the Diamond League event in Paris beckons, not even an Olympic gold medal is going to keep you from working. Right, Francena McCorory?
Right, Ryan Crouser?
… And shot diva Michelle Carter?
Medalist, Bestselling Author
Not only can Shalane Flanagan move on the track, but the Boulder-born, Massachusetts-raised, North Carolina alum and two-time Olympian can also move sales with her book.
"Sometimes small dreams get bigger than you ever imagined"- @elysekopecky Our little cookbook climbed it's way onto the New York Times Best Seller List. 3 years ago Elyse and I dreamed up the idea (at my kitchen table) to share our foodie-cooking wisdom. We knew it would be a rewarding adventure but never knew how well it would be received. #happycooking #runfasteatslow #dreamchaser #dreamteam #mindblown #followyourpassion
First, ice hockey Olympian T.J. Oshie put an adorable twist on his push-ups effort by incorporating his daughter. Then he went ahead and challenged one of this country’s best-ever players …
… And you know what? Two-time ice-hockey Olympian Jeremy Roenick obliged.
It’s Winter O’Clock Somewhere
Lest we forget, Olympic athletes are around the world training. In this case, 16 hours ahead of EDT, in Lake Tekapo, New Zealand, we can find two-time Olympic gold medalist alpine skier Ted Ligety. He downplays it here, but Ligety looks pretty good to us.
Olympic slopestyle snowboarding gold medalist Sage Kotsenburg went chasing the snow in Australia.
It was a 32 hours well spent to get to Australia and be able to shred today! pic.twitter.com/mohTGTTjHb— sage kotsenburg (@sagekotsenburg) August 24, 2016