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."
This is starting to get real, y'all. Rio. After years of hard work for thousands — often in the relative darkness of anonymity and training, or, worse, putting oneself through the pain and suffering of rehab — the Rio 2016 Games beckon.
Some things, though, don't change. Procrastinators gonna procrastinate. Packing for a long trip is never easy. But add to that variables ranging from an unfamiliar climate to, say, a little something like the world's attention on you, and you just might wind up with a particular strain of packing procrastination.
Seems Olympic gold medalist soccer star Alex Morgan was having a bit of a struggle getting her move on.
Defending Olympic decathlon champion Ashton Eaton did Morgan one better by having a trophy tribute to his procrastination.
Kudos to Olympic gymnast Jake Dalton.
Started packing for the OLYMPICS! Crazy!— Jake Dalton (@jake_dalton) July 21, 2016
And They're Off
For some, the Games are already that much more real. Some are much more literally on their way to the Games. The U.S. Olympic Field Hockey Team earned one of the more creative and captivating send-offs you’ll ever see.
Team USA’s judokas cleaned up nicely, too.
Marti Malloy, Travis Stevens and Kayla Harrison had some fun, too.
USA Diving is on the move, too, en route to a pre-Olympic camp in Atlanta.
Let them eat … steak? Thanks to Senior Vice President of USA Gymnastics Rhonda Faehn, we check in with medal favorites grabbing a bite at a team dinner.
Fleming's steakhouse ❤️🇺🇸❤️ pic.twitter.com/9dtfDncRb7— Rhonda Faehn (@RhondaUSAGym) July 20, 2016
USA Water Polo’s national teams also enjoyed gala gathering before taking off for the Games. A pool queue, if you will.
Few could have done it better, or in a more sartorially coordinated fashion, than defending Olympic wrestling champion Jordan Burroughs.
Great day at the Olympic Send-Off! Thanks to everyone who came out! pic.twitter.com/qcm9eJ69ww— Jordan Burroughs (@alliseeisgold) July 17, 2016
Training Camps, Too
USA Swimming, which will get out of the blocks early in the Olympic schedule in Rio, already has its athletes in training camps. It’s second, in fact. Missy Franklin, who earned four golds in London, posted a pic featuring a few generations of Olympians in 30-year-old Amanda Weir (Athens and London Games) and teenagers Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel.
USA Basketball also has its star-studded cast, this one in Las Vegas, where Jabari Parker looked awfully good in slow-motion flight before camp wrapped up on Thursday.
See You In Rio
Paralympic star and 2014 snowboard cross medalist Amy Purdy will be in Rio, too. Why? Looks like we’ll have to stay tuned. For now, enjoy the tip toe dance.
Broken bones. Open compound fractures. Severed tendons. Tears. Surgeries. Scars. Plates. Wires. Reconstructions. Stitches (without anesthesia). When we refer to what a career athlete goes through in pursuit of his or her Olympic dreams, we mean not only the stress of making ends meet or making Team USA, but there is also the very real physical toll taken in nearly every sport at its elite level. Olympian and Rio-bound BMX racer Alise Post admits she hates “to promote the fact that injuries are a part of sport,” but this honest video look — with Post, Taylor Phinney, Jillion Potter, Greg Louganis and Steele Johnson — will take you inside the competitive spirit of a competitor at the highest level. Plus, they get points for accessorizing with a mannequin.
The timing of an injury can be devastating. For gymnast John Orozco, who had made it through a very difficult road out of the London Games to qualify for Rio. Unfortunately, Rio was not meant to be for him, either. Though the honest emotions that often reveal themselves through social media, Orozco took to Instagram to try to sum up his emotions after the devastating news.
I'm beyond devastated to say that my road to Rio has come to an abrupt end. Last week during Olympic Team camp, I re-tore my ACL/meniscus. At this point of my life I'm reminded of one word that I learned from my favorite book (The Alchemist) "Maktub" which in Arabic means "It is written" (meant to be) and like the common theme of the book I truly believe the universe conspires to guide us to our destiny with what we perceive as coincidences, signs, and omens. It's clear to me now more than ever that my dreams of Olympic gold were never meant to be, but maybe I have a different purpose that has yet to reveal itself? I'm forever grateful for the opportunities gymnastics has given me in life, the amazing people I've met through my career in the sport, and the life lessons I've learned. I'm humbled by the unwavering love and support of my family, friends, coaches, USA medical staff, personal doctors, and fans. Tragedy seems to be a reoccurring theme in my life, but looking back on my career I wouldn't change a single thing.
Wrestling With Fame
Slowed somewhat by a knee injury, Sarah Hildebrandt may not have qualified to wrestle in the Olympic Games back in April, but she earned an entirely different brand of Team USA fame when she appeared in a lip sync and dance-tastic video that went viral this past week.
Omg someone just came up to me and was like, "you're the girl from that dance video!" #IHaveMadeIt 😂😂💃🏼— Sarah Hildebrandt (@sarhilde) July 17, 2016
To refresh your memory, Hildebrandt, who had undergone surgery seven weeks ago, makes her Team USA video debut at the :21 mark.
'Make That Happen'
Distance runner Bernard Lagat has an idea. The 41-year-old who recently qualified for Rio, his fifth Games, sets up a pretty good photo op with teenage track sensation Sydney McLaughlin.
Definitely! Even better to have it grace the front cover of the T&F magazine... Fans would agree😬. Yes :) https://t.co/nrUHs70D7F— Bernard Lagat (@Lagat1500) July 17, 2016
Swimming star Janet Evans may have won four gold medals (three at the 1988 Games in Seoul and another at the 1992 Games, along with a silver in Barcelona), but her greatest Olympic memory? That’s easy.
Sprinting star Michael Johnson, who won two of his four Olympic golds there in Atlanta, also holds this particular Opening Ceremony moment dear.
One of my most vivid memories of the '96 Games. Amazing moment! https://t.co/v89lBLIOF3— Michael Johnson (@MJGold) July 20, 2016
Captain of the Magnificent Seven, gymnast Amanda Borden, also shared a priceless pic full of golden winners.
Bubba’s Wild Ride
You know who's had a whole lot of fun this past week? Bubba Watson. He may have finished tied for 39th at golf's British Open (he told Dan Patrick the course was “mean”), but we also learned he'd be representing Team USA in Rio. Oh, and there were all sorts of this when he landed back in the States …
Planets are also aligning for fellow Team USA golfer Patrick Reed:
Must be fate... My birthday falls on the opening day of The Olympics ceremony. Proud to rep TEAM USA!!!#RoadtoRio2016— Patrick Reed (@PReedGolf) July 19, 2016
Not only was Erin Jones prepping for New York City’s triathlon this week, but she was also caught up in the Pokémon Go craze while strolling around Colorado Springs, Colorado. Presumably, fiancé Logan Storie will have his eyes on the aisle when the two are married in three months.
One of the more gratifying opportunities as an Olympian comes from what Team USA athletes can do about making the days of those who could use a visit.
At one point on Thursday in Minneapolis, not far from Olympian Jessie Diggins’ hometown, the heat index reached 116 degrees. Diggins, though, had been keeping cool this past week with some of her fellow Nordic skiers on Alaska's Eagle Glacier.
Up, down and sideways. That might best describe three-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer Nathan Adrian’s look through the years. The sprint star will be headed to Rio as part of his third consecutive Olympic team.
National Ice Cream Day
Bless this internet holiday.
On a side note, Shibutani was chirped by legend Scott Hamilton:
Not if you eat it fast enough. I was there everyday and not one drop hit the ground. https://t.co/Wdr2XqYBzE— Scott Hamilton (@ScottHamilton84) July 19, 2016
For what seems like the first time in forever, Rio-bound triathlete Gwen Jorgensen did not win a triathlon. This time, there would be no historic comeback, as there was in Leeds not all that long ago. This time, fellow Rio-bound Team USA triathlete Katie Zaferes earned the top spot on a podium. What followed was pure class from both parties.
To say I am stoked would be an understatement, I am so excited to capture my first WTS win at #WTSHamburg. What an incredible atmosphere!— Katie Zaferes (@KZaferes6) July 16, 2016
In addition to the countdown to the Olympics in Rio, that edition of the Games will be followed shortly thereafter by the 2016 Paralympic Games. The countdown is on …