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."
Land of the free. Home of the brave. While so many of us were doing the same, Team USA was celebrating the 240th birthday of the United States of America. For athletes who so often are toiling, trying and training for their countries, it’s no wonder social media feeds became its own fireworks display of red, white and blue. There were barbecues, there were workouts, there were work days, and there were more than a few Monday fun days.
From Miracle on Ice Olympic goalkeeper Jim Craig ... this will forever stand as one of the most iconic of patriotic Team USA moments:
Happy Birthday America! I hope everyone is having a fun and safe 4th celebrating the best country in the world #USA pic.twitter.com/8fd89YpdYP— Jim Craig (@JimCraigUSA) July 4, 2016
For sheer flair, gold-medal-winning gymnasts Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson earn high marks.
HAPPY 4th of July from us to you!! ❤️👯🇺🇸 @ShawnJohnson pic.twitter.com/uDJeLLKvd5— Nastia Liukin (@NastiaLiukin) July 4, 2016
Gold medalist figure skater Scott Hamilton made the holiday a work day, but this smile suggests he didn't mind at all.
Proud to be in DC for #July4thPBS @July4thPBS to send @TeamUSA & celebrate our great nation's birthday. pic.twitter.com/4p0POph2bx— Scott Hamilton (@ScottHamilton84) July 3, 2016
We found another Team USA figure skater hard at work on the Fourth, too.
Putting in work on July 4th... In Canada.— Maia Shibutani (@MaiaShibutani) July 5, 2016
Hope you all had a great day! 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/8VZJSxD0gX
Yet another Olympic figure skater, Tanith White had more than a few reasons to celebrate.
U.S. men's soccer team player Charlie Davies, who made his Team USA debut back in 2007, has a few reasons to celebrate himself: Rhys and Dakota.
Happy 4th of July!!!! 🇺🇸 🎇#DaviesBabies #fourthofjuly #OneSockDakota pic.twitter.com/5tTrecW6KG— Charlie Davies (@CharlieDavies9) July 5, 2016
U.S. Paracycling posted an image of a super patriotic Joe Berenyi, who will be competing in Rio, racing over the weekend.
Happy 4th from @usparacycling @lefty68usa - pictured here in Saturday's TT - is patriotic. How about you ? pic.twitter.com/as9HgohaSE— USParacycling (@usparacycling) July 4, 2016
Olympic Nordic skier Jessie Diggins rolled with it, too.
Two-time Olympic luger Chris Mazdzer found a place to make use of the real thing when it came to snow planks.
Mazdzer wasn't alone, either. Olympic alpine skier Steven Nyman also managed to carve a few turns, these in Oregon.
Slalom star Mikaela Shiffrin, on the other hand, made sure she worked out.
How good do you think five- (working on six-) time Olympic Kim Rhode's aim is with a water balloon?
Making the 4th of July a splash! #FourthOfJuly #HappyBdayUSA pic.twitter.com/OKCp80dYh3— Kim Rhode (@KimRhode) July 4, 2016
USA Rugby captain Madison Hughes added a born-on date.
Repping the USA all over the world since 1992 #happy4th pic.twitter.com/uDblk5msIE— Madison Hughes (@MadisonHughes15) July 4, 2016
Sweet ride, April Holmes. The Paralympic track star knows how to decorate for the occasion.
Nothing to see here. Just an eagle along for the ride with bobsledder Nick Cunningham at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, New York.
When you want to out-freedom your friends... @TeamUSA #LakePlacidOTCCrew #FinallyGotToBeAMascot #BucketlistCheck pic.twitter.com/0ApDQiYiCT— Nick Cunningham (@BOBSLEDR) July 4, 2016
On the left coast, BMX Olympian Alise Post checked in with a post from Chula Vista's Olympic Training Center.
A national champion and multi-medal favorite in Rio, Simone Biles is now in San Jose, California, with her fellow 2016 Games hopefuls. But she spent the Fourth at home in Houston, where she put a twist on throwing out a ceremonial first pitch.
.@Simone_Biles getting fancy with her #Astros first pitch. Love it! #USA pic.twitter.com/bPW43fX5SZ— Daniel Gotera (@DTGoteraKHOU) July 4, 2016
Paralympic Stars Shine
One of the most dominant athletes in the world, 11-time Paralympic medalist Tatyana McFadden, is among the headliners who were named this past week to the team that will take on Rio later this summer. The fruits of her labors, which include an incredible stretch of wheelchair marathon wins and will see her competing in seven events in Rio, have her gaining a place in the sporting conscience. Even from high above the clouds.
McFadden has arrived in Lisbon, Portugal, where she hints at a secret project with a lofty dream.
I cannot get over how beautiful Lisbon is #portugal. I love the people and the culture 💕I'm so excited for this upcoming project that I hope will change the perspective on disability. Cannot share details now but you will see soon. Blessed for these types of opportunities. For now please please go vote for me for #espys @espn!!! I still can't believe I got nominated!!! The link is on my bio. Thank you everyone for the continuous love and support 💕
Meanwhile, her swimming, biking and fellow track athletes took to social media after learning that they, too, were headed to Rio. Keep an eye out for Michelle Konkoly, Brad Snyder, Jessica Long, Cortney Jordan, Reilly Boyt, Alyssa Gialamas, Tharon Drake, Roy Perkins, Jeremy Campbell and Mallory Weggemann ...
When you're OFFICIALLY going to RIO! @BradSnyderUSA pic.twitter.com/tq8ONSzZzL— Michelle Konkoly (@michellekonkoly) July 3, 2016
We're going to Rio! #RoadToRio pic.twitter.com/ExR0SYOCfL— U.S. Paralympics (@USParalympics) July 3, 2016
We are Rio bound! Thankful to make my third consecutive Paralympic team! pic.twitter.com/wfgKRmLbLU— Jeremy Campbell (@JeremyKCampbell) July 3, 2016
What an incredible way to be welcomed home this morning!! Still cannot believe we are officially Rio bound!! I hope everyone is having a wonderful day celebrating the 4th with friends and family! This year in the Weggemann house the 4th is a little extra special! Thank you again to everyone for all of their love and support!!
Swim, Win, Swim, Win, Work, Work, Work
What did Katie Ledecky do at U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Swimming in Omaha, Nebraska? Well, there was the nearly 10-second win in the 800-meter freestyle and the assurance that she will swim the 200 and 400 free, too ... while leaving the giving experts and fans the general impression not whether she would win medals in Rio but whether there would be multiple gold medals. There are conversations about her being, at the mere age of 19, the most dominant athlete in sports. And what did she do after trials? She went back to work.
Practice #2 the day after #SwimTrials16 with @katieledecky The process never ends @NCAPswim Embrace the Process pic.twitter.com/WrzpP5Gdfy— Bruce Gemmell (@CoachGemmell) July 3, 2016
There can't be many better feelings than, after learning you were ticketed for Rio, being invited to team processing. Soon-to-be first-time Olympians Kathleen Baker and Kelsi Worrell enjoyed the honor over this past weekend.
First time Olympians @KathleenBaker2 & @kelsiwhirl going through team processing! 🇺🇸😏 #SwimSwag #TeamUSA pic.twitter.com/GkvCDJGb27— USA Swimming (@USASwimming) July 3, 2016
Take a look at the #teampic, full squad below.
🇺🇸🎉👏🏼 #SwimUnited #SquadGoals pic.twitter.com/jg1Es4aFQp— USA Swimming (@USASwimming) July 4, 2016
Road To Rio Right On Track
Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, has been playing host to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Track & Field for the better part of a week, over which dozens of spots have been filled for Team USA heading to Rio. Thankfully, we have social media to help shine a light on the emotions athletes feel when they finally have a moment to collect themselves after the good, or bad (more on that below), news comes down.
For qualifying for Rio in the shot put, you go right ahead and dance, "B1GHomie" (aka Darrell Hill).
When you wake up and realize yesterday wasn't a dream pic.twitter.com/JPFome7s2r— Darrell Hill (@B1GHomie) July 2, 2016
Vashti Cunningham, who became Team USA's youngest track and field Olympian in decades, had her father, Pro-Bowl quarterback Randall Cunningham, give a sign of approval.
Vashti Cunningham's father, Pro-Bowl QB Randall Cunningham, gives her a sign of approval and support. #TrackTown16 pic.twitter.com/cCtdaMxR4u— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) July 3, 2016
Compliments Of Dan
A compliment from Olympic decathlon champion Dan O'Brien is always welcome.
Decathlon finishers hit the water. Congrats to Ashton, Jeremy, and Zach! #USATF #TeamUSA #TrackTown16 @AshtonJEaton pic.twitter.com/fnSFqz242Z— Dan O'Brien (@DanOBrien) July 4, 2016
While we're on the subject of Olympic decathletes, let's check in with 2008 Olympic gold-medal-winning decathlete Bryan Clay, who checks in with a cheat day menu:
DeeDee's Final Lap
Over the past few months, three-time Olympic 400-meter star DeeDee Trotter has been among the stars referring to their final lap. That final competition lap took place in Eugene this past weekend, and the hashtag is now ... #Retired. Unsurprisingly, Trotter went out with grace and gratitude.
Big thanks & love to @nbc @NBCOlympics & @usatf for the grand coverage yesterday as I took my final lap. #Retired pic.twitter.com/bmj0FlqZ76— DeeDee Trotter (@DTrott400m) July 3, 2016
... And with a few priceless thoughts.
I just want to thank all of you for the hundreds of comments you all are writing me! It means so much and I literally read all of them and I will reply to as many as I can. I just want to say how very happy I feel to be finished with this chapter of my life! It's been a long journey filled with many blessing and challenges. I'm so thankful that unlike many athletes, I was able to retire on my own terms, run my last lap and say goodbye to the sport standing in the lanes. The last 13 years has required so much focus, energy, perseverance, determination, hard work selfishness, and discipline. Its a combination of things that take a lot from you but also gives a lot back to you. I feel so very satisfied and so very complete. I can proudly and excitedly say, "Yay Game Over!" It's really a very similar feeling to graduation; even though I know I have more things ahead and more work to do, I still celebrate and can say "Yay I finished with honors!" 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 Happy 4th of July you guys! Love you all so much!😘😘😘 photo by the amazing @bee_alyssatrofort
The early days of retirement seem to be treating Trotter well.
Dreams Come To An End
Social media offers so much to the fan. In addition to sharing in the successes of athletes, we are also able to tap in to an athlete's most vulnerable moments and honest thoughts in defeat. So often, athletes shine just as bright when they are no longer on top. To wit:
I'd be lying if I said it doesn't hurt, but I know Gods plan is better than what I had in mind. On to the triple jump. Let's get it!— illWill (@WilliamClaye) July 4, 2016
It has been difficult to articulate my emotions into words because there have been so many. I put myself out there for the world to see. Vulnerable and honest with myself, that I was going to leave it all in the pool and I did just that. I am so humbled by the outpouring of love from family and friends. To have 14,000+ people give me a standing ovation, I am truly moved. I am proud of all my friends that will be making the trip to Rio. I will always be rooting for Team USA. I don't know what's next, I've been told to rule nothing out. I'm trying my best, whatever is next, I am READY. #Godswill
Lost my fight today and now my Olympic run is over. Time to re-re-reinvent myself and see what's next for me. It may not be boxing.— Cam F Awesome (@CamFAwesome) July 4, 2016
It is a little strange sitting with the fact last week we were preparing for a podium finish in Rio and just Sunday confirmed I am no longer going to compete at the games. I feel like the ground has been pulled out from under my feet. The Road to Rio has ended but the journey continues! My biggest fear is that I let people down but- I know I am surrounded by love and support for who I am and who I continue to grow into from those around me. Thank you, that's a true blessing. Not every comp is the best one and I couldn't have had a more unlucky meet than at team trials. I have to keep reminding myself of where I was 5 years ago to where I am now. It's such a gift to go another year undefeated in long jump and still have consistent improvements in both events. The numbers didn't add up for me this weekend but I was recently told "even when you land- keep flying." I love what I do so I am doing just that. My track season is still on and I will be competing at the Angel City Games this weekend at UCLA. 💕
For Olympic 800-meter specialist Alysia Montaño, who at the 2014 national championships competed at nearly eight months pregnant and returned a year later with her 10-month-old to win her sixth title in the 800, the 2016 Olympic Trials came to an end in excruciating fashion. Rounding the final turn and in fourth place, what was later deemed incidental contact caught Montaño, who tumbled to the ground.
For her part, Montaño offered sincere congratulations after the race.
W/out further ado, congratulations to @AjeeW @fastk8 &Williams who made their first Oly team in the W800. Often a once in a lifetime opp.— Alysia Montaño (@AlysiaMontano) July 5, 2016
Afterward, words of support poured in through social media, and Montaño allowed social media to help heal some of her disappointment.
My heart aches for @AlysiaMontano! She is such a joy and an inspiration around the campus at Cal. Im a huge fan! https://t.co/bhRI6xS7Q3— Caitlin Leverenz (@cleverenz) July 5, 2016
One door closes another one opens, I just need to find that door. https://t.co/UVl5XG8w8b— Alysia Montaño (@AlysiaMontano) July 6, 2016
It actually means a lot. I meant it when I said the encouragement of fans that engage on social media get me through https://t.co/SiwnSiBYvz— Alysia Montaño (@AlysiaMontano) July 5, 2016
Track fans are the best fans. Truly. Thank you for your continual support and outpouring of love. 💔— Alysia Montaño (@AlysiaMontano) July 5, 2016
Gold medalist swimmer Shannon Vreeland's competitive Olympic career came to an end, too, but she added a nice bit of levity on her way out of that spotlight.
Goodbyes are usually sad. But not when it's goodbye to ever swimming the 400 free again! #neveragain— Shannon Vreeland (@s_vreeland) June 27, 2016