Every couple of years, the world gathers around their television sets to observe the best athletes on the planet compete for the ultimate prize: an Olympic medal. These young athletes are some of the most gifted athletes to have ever lived and their physical feats prove this.
Find Out What They’ve Been Up To
But what happens to these athletes after the Olympic villages are shut down and they go back home to their own countries? The world’s spotlight may be on them for a brief few days, but many of them seem to fade from the limelight after the Olympics are over. Here is what some of your favorite Olympic athletes are up to today, including Mia Hamm, Shawn Johnson, and Michael Phelps.
Michelle Kwan — Then
Michelle Kwan is one of the best figure skaters to have ever graced the Olympic games. She began her career at the age of five, and gained international attention when she finished eighth in the 1994 World Championships at the tender age of 13.
Her high ranking made her an alternate for the 1994 Olympics, but she did not compete at the international competition until 1998. At the 1998 games she was favored to win the gold medal but was narrowly defeated by wunderkind Tara Lipinski. Still, young Ms. Kwan managed to nab the silver medal at the Nagano Olympics—no paltry feat!
Michelle Kwan — Now
Following injuries which prevented her from competing from 2006-2007, Michelle Kwan decided to focus on her education. She graduated from the University of Denver in 2009 before moving on to the Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Kwan said, “Furthering my education will bring me closer to that goal, and I don’t want to wait any longer to continue the journey.” She was married to Clay Pell, a lawyer, military officer, and political operative who ran for the governorship of Rhode Island in 2014. They filed for divorce in March 2017. Kwan worked as an outreach coordinator during Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Bruce Jenner — Then
While she now goes by the name Caitlyn Jenner, the former Olympic gold medal-winning decathlete lived for many years as a man named Bruce Jenner. Before announcing to the public that she is a transgender woman, Jenner was a college football player, playing for the Graceland Yellowjackets.
Jenner later tried the decathlon, winning the event in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. Known as an all-American hero, Jenner set world records and has been known since then as one of the world’s greatest athletes. Jenner gained worldwide fame and became a household name after winning the Olympic games in 1976.
Jenner On TV
Following success in the Olympics, Jenner embarked on a television and film career, starring in the 1980 comedy Can’t Stop the Music. Jenner was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor. Jenner starred in several television films and became a cast member of CHiPs as Officer Steve McLeish.
Jenner also starred on the reality series Keeping Up with the Kardashians while married to ex-wife Kris Jenner, introducing Jenner to a new generation of fans. Jenner was also a racecar driver in the 1980s, though they admit being a much better runner than a racecar driver.
Caitlyn Jenner — Now
After living as a man for most of her life, Jenner came out as a trans woman in a 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer in 2015. Jenner said that she had been dealing with gender dysphoria since she was young, stating that “for all intents and purposes, I’m a woman.”
Jenner had previously undergone hormone replacement therapy, but stopped as her relationship with Kris Kardashian became serious. Today she is a powerful figure in the LGBT community and is involved with various charities. A documentary covering her gender transition aired on E!. The show, called I Am Cait, is also executive produced by Jenner.
Shawn Johnson — Then
This gymnastics superstar began her career at the young age of three, reportedly because her parents wanted to find a creative way for her to channel all of her pent-up energy. Instead of seeing a hyperactive little girl, Shawn Johnson’s instructor, Liang Chow, saw the young child’s potential and pushed her to train.
This led her to the 2008 Olympics where she stunned the international gymnastics community with her agility. Sadly, Shawn Johnson was forced to retire with just four Olympic medals under her belt after a knee injury prevented her from continuing to participate in the rigorous sport.
Shawn Johnson — Now
After the 2008 Olympics, Shawn Johnson appeared on the eighth season of ABC’s dance competition series, Dancing With the Stars. On the show, she was partnered with professional dancer Mark Ballas and became the champion of the season. She later attended Vanderbilt University to study sports psychology and nutrition.
Shawn Johnson is now a married woman; she wed her beau Andrew East, a former NFL player for the Oakland Raiders. The couple lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Shawn has released several books, the most recent one a young adult novel about a competitive gymnast training for the Olympics called The Flip Side.
Tonya Harding — Then
Tonya Harding is one of the most infamous Olympic athletes of all time. The two-time Olympian as well as Skate America Champion, Tonya Harding placed second in the 1991 World Championships and won the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. She was the first American woman to complete a triple axel jump in competition.
Her athletic career was cut short in 1994 when she was banned for life from the U.S. Figure Skating Association after becoming involved in an attack on fellow skater (and therefore competition) Nancy Kerrigan. Harding’s ex-husband was found guilty of hiring someone to break Kerrigan’s leg to prevent her from skating against Harding in the 1994 Winter Olympics.
Tonya Harding — Now
Barred from professional skating, Tonya Harding attempted to turn her aptitude for athletics to a career in boxing. While her boxing career was short, she did win several bouts with an overall record of 4-3-0. Harding then turned to automobile racing, setting a new speed record in 2010 driving a 1931 Ford Model A.
She has dabbled in entertainment, attracting more scandal for her adult tape filmed with her former husband, Jeff Gillooly. Harding has also served as a commentator for TruTV’s The Smoking Gun Presents: World’s Dumbest. She is now married to Joseph Jens Price with whom she has a son named Gordon.
Alicia Sacramone — Then
Wunderkind Alicia Sacramone did not begin to study gymnastics until the age of eight. That may sound like a young age, but competitive gymnasts often start even younger than that to get a head start on mastering their sport. Nevertheless, Alicia Sacramone excelled at gymnastics and won an astonishing 12 medals between 2004 and 2008 at the U.S. National Championships.
She is also the second most decorated gymnast in World Championship history having earned a total of ten medals. She also won a silver medal as a member of the U.S. gymnastics team at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Alicia Sacramone — Now
Sacramone has done some acting and some modeling, appearing in a Gatorade commercial and as a CoverGirl spokesmodel. She is a member of Team 24 Fitness for whom she acts as a spokeswoman. In a controversial move, Alicia Sacramone posed without clothes in ESPN’s 2011 Body Issue. She also worked as a designer for men’s fashion company, Tank Farm.
Today she is married to NFL quarterback Brady Quinn. The couple has one child together, a daughter named Sloan Scott Quinn who was born in 2016. Sacramone is a member of the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame.
McKayla Maroney — Then
McKayla Maroney’s face is familiar to many, even to those who do not follow the Olympics or gymnastics. After she failed to clinch the gold and was awarded the silver medal in the 2012 Summer Olympics, McKayla’s disappointed smirk was turned into a meme and became internet gold.
The talented athlete was expected to continue her gymnastics career, perhaps finally winning the gold in the 2016 Summer Olympics, but McKayla decided in that same year to retire from the sport, citing health issues. She suffered many injuries throughout her career, including a knee injury for which she had to undergo surgery.
McKayla Maroney — Now
After retiring from the world of competitive gymnastics, McKayla Maroney turned her attention to several other creative endeavors. She first began acting, making her debut in 2012, appearing on the CW television series Hart of Dixie. Her guest appearance turned into a recurring role which lasted for six episodes.
In 2016 she shot down rumors that she had had plastic surgery after fans started to comment on how much her signature smirk had changed. Maroney denied the rumors, telling Seventeen magazine she had never had lip injections and that the change that people seemed to be noticing was due to her use of lip liner. “Your face changes, you get older, your face fills out, and you fall into liking makeup and different stuff like that. And for people saying that, for the most part — it would kind of hurt my feelings when you haven’t done anything.”
Lance Armstrong — Then
Lance Armstrong is one of the winningest road racing cyclists of all time. He won the Tour de France several times. He has also competed in the World Championship and the Clásica de San Sebastián. He won a bronze medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics and was a member of the US Postal/Discovery team from 1998 to 2005.
His battle with cancer in 1996 led him to become an inspirational role model to many. He was told that his chances of survival were fairly low, but Armstrong eventually won his battle with the illness and his cancer went into remission.
Lance Armstrong — Now
Lance Armstrong’s public image was shattered after allegations of doping arose. In 2012, the United States Anti-Doping Agency found that the cyclist had used performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career. He was also found to be the ringleader of what was called “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”
After choosing not to contest the charges, Armstrong was stripped of many of his achievements including his seven Tour de France titles. Lance Armstrong later admitted that some of the allegations were true, although he declined to confirm just how much he resorted to using performance enhancing drugs.
Nancy Kerrigan – Then
Nancy Kerrigan was born in Massachusetts in 1969. She was, at one point in time, considered to be the best figure skater. Her talent showed since she was young like all future stars as she won her first bronze in the 1992 Winter Olympics. An unfortunate event took place right before 1994 games which cost her a gold medal. She was attacked by a hitman in the knee who was sent by an opponent’s ex-husband.
She had a competition the next day at the United States Championships and it was unknown if she was going to compete. “It’s not the most important thing, skating,” Kerrigan said. “If I can’t I’ll have to deal with it. I’m O.K. It could have been a lot worse.” The Olympic committee allowed her to compete at the Olympics due to circumstances and she ended up winning silver.
Nancy Kerrigan – Now
Today, things are a lot different for the Olympic skater. Not to say that she has fallen off the map, but you know your career isn’t as great as it used to be when you are Dancing with the Stars. Sadly, misfortune struck Kerrigan again but not thanks to anyone else this time. Kerrigan recently revealed she had fertility problems, suffering from six miscarriages before becoming a mother.
“It’s something you didn’t talk about then. People didn’t talk about miscarriages, so I felt very alone,” she says in the issue of her own “shame” during the late ’90s and early 2000s. “I think talking about any issue makes things less stressful. It helps you to realize you’re not the only one and that other people go through the same things.”
Tara Lipinski – Then
What were you doing at age 15? Tara Lipinski was winning Olympic gold at 15 back in 1988. If your résumé includes something as stellar as that, you are going places. Pretty impressive for a teenager and now that it has been years since, she sits back and reflects on those times.
“That’s the thing about the Olympics, people see that small sort of window of time of skating for four minutes and winning an Olympic gold medal, which was outrageous and amazing, but there were so many amazing moments,” Lipinski said. Now let’s see what she has going on now.
Tara Lipinski – Now
After winning so young and being great at that age, you can only do it for so long. Reaching the pinnacle that quickly and trying to keep it there would take a lot of effort for the rest of her life so Lipinski had to think of what to do next.
“When I thought about commentating in 2009, it just hit me and I just thought I could never do it,” she said. “You look at Scott Hamilton and Dick Button, and they’re your idols, and there was that moment I went to bed one night and was like that’s it. This is what I’m meant to do.”
Usain Bolt – Then
Today, it is hard to imagine a time where the world did not know and love the fastest man to ever live, Usain Bolt. Although it is true that Bolt has been running for almost his whole life, he didn’t reach the pinnacle until 2008. At his first Olympics in 2004, the 17-year-old had made the Olympic team for one race and that was the 200m. He just missed out on qualifying to the next round by .03 of a second.
It wasn’t until 2008 when Bolt pounded his chest as he passed the finish line in a landslide of a victory when the world started to take notice. Since then, he dominated the sprints events at each of the following Olympics up until 2016!
Usain Bolt – Now
Usain Bolt announced that the 2016 Rio Olympics would be his last to compete in. He made history at said Olympics when he became the first sprinter to win three straight golds in the 100m, 200m and the 4x100m relay. He often states that he wants to be mentioned with the greats like Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali and he believes now he will be.
Bolt is usually found somewhere partying it up enjoying the fruits of his labor. If he isn’t in the headlines dancing with a random girl, he is in his homeland of Jamaica having fun with friends and family.
Natalie Coughlin – Then
At the age of six, Natalie Coughlin was already swimming competitively. Most of us were in first grade trying to add one plus one and she was already diving in collecting medals. That would explain how she won 12 NCAA titles in her collegiate career. Her first Olympic run was in 2004 and she won two gold medals.
Four years after that, she was the first woman to swim the 100m backstroke in under a minute! She was a continual show of excellence throughout her career and her medals and records are the proof. She earned a medal in every event she entered through three Olympics.
Natalie Coughlin – Now
Harry How/Getty Images
Prior to the 2016 Olympics, Natalie Coughlin had said she was not going to retire but she would not be competing in the Rio Olympics either. In March 2017, she has come out and said she is done.
“I don’t see myself competing for the national team again,” Coughlin said in a phone interview. “I think that part is in my past, which I’m happy about and grateful. I don’t see myself trying to go to a world championship or an Olympic team again, but at the same time you never know.” She now hopes to do broadcasting.
Mia Hamm — Then
Mia Hamm’s underdog story is one that captured the attention of the world and turned her into a role model and inspiration for many people. Mia suffered from a club foot since birth. In spite of this physical ailment, she was able to become an Olympic athlete.
She wore corrective shoes growing up and began playing soccer. Her athletic prowess landed her on the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team. Mia Hamm helped the team win gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and the 2004 Athens Olympics. She was also a member of the team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics where they won the silver medal.
Mia Hamm — Now
After a long and successful career playing soccer, Mia Hamm retired from athletics and focused on raising a family. She also became an author, writing Go For the Goal: A Champion’s Guide to Winning in Soccer and Life. She later made an appearance in the documentary Dare to Dream: The Story of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team.
She is now married to Nomar Garciaparra who previously played shortstop for the Boston Red Sox. The couple has twin girls, Grace Isabella and Ava Caroline, as well as a son named Garrett Anthony. Hamm established the Mia Hamm Foundation to help support patients and families who receive bone marrow transplants.
Oscar Pistorius — Then
Oscar Pistorius fascinated the world with his athletic prowess. Both of his legs were amputated below the knee when he was just 11 months old, but that did not stop Pistorius from achieving his dreams. Oscar Pistorius became a Paralympic champion and fought for the right to participate in non-disabled international competitions, despite objections from the IAAF which said his artificial limbs provided him with an unfair advantage.
Pistorius won a medal at the 2011 World Championships in Athletics, making him the first amputee to win a medal in a non-disabled event. Pistorius then became the first double-leg amputee to participate in the Olympic games, competing at the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Oscar Pistorius — Now
Oscar Pistorius was celebrated as an international hero and lauded for prevailing in spite of the odds. Unfortunately, his time as a role model was short lived. On Valentine’s Day in 2013, Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend, a model named Reeva Steenkamp. He claimed that he thought she was an intruder and shot at her before realizing who she was.
He was charged with murder and sentenced to five years in prison for culpable homicide. He was also convicted of a separate charge of reckless endangerment. An attempt to appeal the sentence resulted in his sentence being lengthened as his charge was changed from culpable homicide to murder.
Larisa Latynina – Then
From the Soviet, Larisa Semyonovna had the best title in the Olympic world until Michael Phelps had something to say about. Semyonovna was once the most decorated Olympic medalist for a full 52 years! Phelps barely broke her record in 2012 (maybe that’s why he chose to retire).
As a youth, she was trained in ballet until she made the switch to a gymnast which must have had some positive effect on her immense talents. From 1956 to 1964 she won nine gold medals. Overall she has 14 individual medals and four team medals. What exactly is she up to today after such a great career?
Larisa Semyonovna – Now
These days, Semyonovna enjoys her time away from competing but can’t stay away from the competition. She was in attendance when Michael Phelps was going to potentially break her record and become the new most decorated Olympic athlete. In 2012 over in London, she was asked about the situation and responded very positively.
“I’ll be happy for him if he does it because he deserves it,” she says, but she still holds on to her Soviet roots. “Of course, if [the Russian swimmer] Evgeny Korotyshkin and Phelps compete, then I’m sorry Michael, but I’ll cheer for Korotyshkin.”
Nastia Liukin – Then
Nastia Liukin comes from a fine line of gymnasts so it makes sense that the apple wouldn’t fall far from the tree. Her dad used to be an Olympian and her mother was just a world champion rhythmic gymnast, nothing special. The path to greatness was laid out for her all she had to do was put in the work.
In 2005 and 2007 she was crowned the world champion on the balance beam. That set up for her to compete in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. She won five medals at the 2008 Olympics with one of them being a gold, three silvers and one bronze.
Nastia Liukin – Now
Nastia Liukin has not competed in the Olympics since 2008 but she still stays involved with the Olympic community. She has been commentating since the 2008 Olympics and she says that’s what she wanted to do since then. She also recently got her degree from NYU. Her career is carefully plotted out.
“When I got the opportunity to work for NBCOlympics.com in London, I was like ‘OK, this is the first step,’ so that was really exciting for me,” she said. “But beyond being able to graduate [college], I think I have been career-driven because I don’t want to fall back on the fact that I’m an Olympic gold medalist.”
Kobe Bryant – Then
Kobe “Bean” Bryant is an all-time great basketball player. With five championships to his name, what more could bolster his career full of accolades? That’s right, two gold Olympic medals can. Bryant accepted the invite for the Olympics for the first time in 2008 to be a part of the “Redeem Team” that included the likes of LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. They won and Kobe would come back in 2012 for a final Olympic hoorah.
The 2012 team would go on to be undefeated and would pummel opponents by an average of 32 points. Bryant didn’t play as well as the Bryant we know, due to his older age, but he did have those scoring outburst moments we remember vividly.
Kobe Bryant – Now
The now retired, two-time Olympic gold medalist is on to other things in life that he is passionate about outside of basketball. Bryant says his other passion is storytelling so that is what he does with his new business.
“But with storytelling and writing, I can really sit and go over every word, every break, every look, every edit, every cut, every sound until it is absolutely perfect,” Bryant said. “And also you don’t have to shut it off. With training, you have to shut it off at some point, physically. But with story and writing and creating, I don’t.” You know Bryant loves being able to not have to shut it off!
Shannon Miller – Then
Shannon Miller was an important factor in helping the United States defeat the Russians for the first time. The seven-time medalist won in 1992 over in Barcelona and in 1996. She was a part of the American team labeled as the “Magnificent Seven”. She has a total of 16 Olympic and world championship medals to her name.
1997 was the year she stopped competing but three years later she tried to come back for the Olympics in Sydney. She only gave herself seven months before the Olympic Trials which she later says was “a little bit crazy”.
Shannon Miller – Now
Recently, Shannon Miller had a huge battle with cancer that she came out victorious from but she urges all women to take steps to be able to catch it early if they too have the disease.
“I was lucky my doctors caught it early. But I don’t want other women to count on luck. It’s important to learn the signs,” said Miller. “I thank God every day that I’m here.” She has a book detailing her experience and the fight she went through. And on a side note, she is the only woman to be put in the Olympic Hall of Fame twice, as an individual athlete and as a member of a team.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. – Then
In 1996, Floyd Mayweather Jr. competed in his first and last Olympic games. It’s not that he did bad or anything, he just didn’t get the results he wanted and he felt he was cheated. Mayweather left those Olympics with a bronze medal but he and many others thought he could have gone further and won gold.
“We all know I got ripped off,” Mayweather said then. “It’s time for me to turn professional. I can’t deal with amateur boxing anymore.” That would be his last loss before turning professional and never losing again.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. – Now
Today, Floyd Mayweather is the retired undisputed five-division champion of the world. He has an unblemished record of 49 wins and zero losses with 26 of those wins coming by knockout. Do you think it is a coincidence that after he lost at the Olympics and went pro that he never lost again?
Mayweather can be seen in Las Vegas, where he lives, spending an insane amount of cash. He was Forbes’ richest athlete for consecutive years and only continues to find ways to get even more money. If you follow him on social media then you can see for yourself how he earns and spends his money.
Michael Phelps – Then
Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all-time got his start in the Olympic realm way back in 2000. As a young boy going to the Olympic trials against the reigning gold medalist, he seemed unphased. He came in second place in the 200m butterfly earning his spot on the roster. Former gold medalist had wise words for him.
“He doesn’t know what it means to go to an Olympics,” Tom Malchow said then, according to newspaper reports. “He doesn’t know how it’s going to change his life. He’s going to find out soon.” Not only did it change his life, he changed the lives of others as well.
Michael Phelps – Now
Having the title Michael Phelps has is certainly something to pat yourself on the back about even for the most humble people. Long hours of hard work were a result of his medals. As far as what he plans to do now that he is done? Let’s hear it from the horse’s mouth himself.
“I want to continue the sport of swimming,” Phelps said. “I’m not going to give up until I think it’s reached where I want it to go. There are too many kids who are drowning for lack of water safety. That’s something I’d like to do. Teaching kids to live an active lifestyle. I’ll be working with kids for the rest of my life.”
Ryan Lochte – Then
Ryan Lochte is perhaps the second-most recognized American Olympic swimmer behind Michael Phelps. In fact, Lochte ranks second in swimming behind Phelps for being a 12-time Olympic medalist with six gold medals, three silver, and three bronze.
He won his first Olympic gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens at the age of 20. Lochte had been trained by his parents in swimming since age five, but would never take it seriously until his loss at the Junior Olympics at age 14. He later told The Telegraph, “I suddenly said, ‘I’m sick of losing.’ After that I trained hard and I never lost there again.”
Ryan Lochte – Now
Lochte went on to compete in the Summer Olympics and World Championships consecutively since his first win, but his athletic prowess in the water wasn’t enough to prevent the public from labeling Lochte as both a sex symbol and an airhead.
Lochte’s non-Olympic persona came under scrutiny in 2016 during the Summer Olympics in Rio in what is now known as “Lochtegate.” Lochte exaggerated a claim that he and two other swimmers were robbed at gunpoint out of their taxi, when in fact, Lochte had drunkenly vandalized a gas station bathroom. He was charged with providing false claims and was suspended from swimming for ten months.
Gabby Douglas – Then
21-year-old Gabby Douglas was a member of the United States women’s national gymnastics team and rose to prominence as a member of the Fierce Five, the Olympic artistic gymnastics team that won their first team gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Douglas herself singularly made history as the first African American in Olympic history to become an individual all-around champion, while also becoming the first American gymnast to win gold in the individual all-around and team competition at the same Olympic games when she was just 16 years old. She has a total of three Olympic gold medals to her name.
Gabby Douglas – Now
Gabby Douglas last competed in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Rio, where her role on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team has noticeably diminished. At that event, the team called themselves the Final Five in honor of their coach’s retirement and due to the fact that the team size would be reduced to four for the 2020 games.
Douglas recently made headlines in November 2017 after coming forward with an admission that she, along with many other members of the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team, was sexually abused by the team doctor, Larry Nassar, who was sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Douglas’s claims came after she suffered criticism for “victim shaming” her former teammates who also have been abused, but she later apologized in a tweet that seemed to reveal her own trauma.
Katie Ledecky – Then
You might consider Katie Ledecky the female version of Michael Phelps. At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Ledecky was the most decorated female athlete by the end of the games, taking home four gold medals, one silver, and two world records—and that’s just at one year’s games.
Over the course of her Olympic swimming career so far, Ledecky became a five-time Olympic gold medalist and 14-time world champion. She also currently holds the world record in the women’s 400-, 800-, and 1500- meter freestyle and the fastest times in the women’s 500-, 1000-, and 1650-yard freestyle events.
Katie Ledecky – Now
Ledecky currently swims for coach Greg Meehan’s Stanford Cardinal swimming team while she attends Stanford University on an athletic scholarship. For someone who has already achieved so much early on in her career, it’s a wonder what she could aspire to do from this point on. After all, she is already the world-record holder for most titles in her sport.
After leaving Rio, Ledecky told USA Today, “I haven’t set my goals for these next couple of years yet or even this coming year, but that’s something, once I head out to Stanford and sit down with Greg, we’ll figure out… I think it’s great to have options.”
Kerri Strug – Then
American gymnast Kerri Strug gained recognition at the 1996 Olympics when she was a member of the U.S. women’s team, which was then known as the Magnificent Seven. Strug made a name for herself when she guaranteed her team the gold medal after performing two vaults on an injured ankle.
Of the moment, Strug would later tell the media that she wasn’t going to let her ankle stop her from trying her best saying, “This is the Olympics. This is what you dream about from when you’re 5 years old. I wasn’t going to stop.” After her win, Strug refused to be taken to the hospital so she could stand with her team at the podium, which she had to be carried to.
Kerri Strug – Now
Shortly after her legendary win, Strug eventually retired and enrolled at UCLA, where she worked as a team manager for the school’s NCAA gymnastics events since she couldn’t be a part of the team as a professional gymnast. Strug later earned her master’s degree in Sociology from Stanford.
After college, Strug went on to work as a staff assistant at the White House Office of Presidential Student Correspondence and as a presidential appointee for the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention staff. Now married with two kids, Strug’s most recent involvement with the Olympics was working as a correspondent for Yahoo! during the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.
Greg Louganis – Then
Greg Louganis rose to prominence in the ’80s as an Olympic diver for the United States. Louganis earned his first two gold medals at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles in both the springboard and tower diving events. He won an additional two gold medals four years later at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, even through a concussion he got during the preliminary rounds after his head struck the springboard.
In 1994 Louganis unsurprisingly came out as gay, but his most shocking public announcement came the following year when he told the world that he was HIV-positive. That year he spoke publicly for the first time about these announcements in an interview with Barbara Walters.
Greg Louganis – Now
Louganis has written openly about his diagnosis in his memoir, Breaking the Surface, which was later adapted into a television movie. These days, Louganis now is a fervent LGBT rights activist as well as an advocate for HIV awareness. After retiring from diving, Louganis has competed in dog agility competitions and has dabbled in acting.
However, Louganis hasn’t left diving behind completely, since he has been coaching at the SoCal Divers Club in Fullerton, California since November 2010. He was also a mentor during the 2012 Olympics in London and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro to the U.S. diving team.
Tommie Smith – Then
Tommie Smith participated in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico, where he raced to victory during the 200-meter final to win the gold medal—even just after having recovered from an injured hamstring.
Even more legendary than Smith’s win, however, is what he did at the winners’ podium. He and teammate John Carlos rose their fists in solidarity with those who were fighting for human rights. At the time, people all over the world rallied against apartheid in South Africa, while racial segregation was still rampant in the United States. Years later, Smith said, “We were concerned about the lack of black assistant coaches. About how Muhammad Ali got stripped of his title. About the lack of access to good housing and our kids not being able to attend the top colleges.”
Tommie Smith – Now
Today, Smith’s stand for solidarity is without a doubt what he is most known for, telling The Washington Post in 2017, “I don’t like the idea of people looking at it as negative. There was nothing but a raised fist in the air and a bowed head, acknowledging the American flag – not symbolizing a hatred for it.”
After Smith was suspended from the team and effectively banned from the Olympics, he took on a short-lived career in professional football as a wide receiver for the Los Angeles Rams and later, the Cincinnati Bengals. Later in his life, Smith became a professor of sociology and the track coach at Oberlin College in Ohio.
Carl Lewis – Then
Carl Lewis had an incredible Olympic career that spanned almost 20 years, over the course of which he has earned nine gold medals and one silver, in addition to eight gold out of ten World Championships medals. Lewis excelled at track and field events, proving himself a dominant sprinter and long jumper. He set records in the 100- and 200-meter relays and still holds the record he set in 1984 for the indoor long jump.
His athletic achievements have led him to be named the “Sportsman of the Century” by the International Olympic Committee, “Olympian of the Century” by Sports Illustrated, and the “World Athlete of the Century” by the International Association of Athletics Federations.
Carl Lewis – Now
Throughout his career, Lewis was known for getting a bit too confident about his athletic abilities, so much so that many other Olympians have commented that he should be a little more humble. Recently, he has criticized long jumpers at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, saying that the jumps he sees today do not compare to what he’s achieved before he retired in the early ’90s.
Lewis told Daily Mail, “The long jump is the worst event in the world right now. Awful… If I jumped 26 feet I’d walk away and say ‘don’t measure that, make it a foul.’ Mike (Powell) and me were jumping 28 feet regularly. But this generation? Rutherford? I’m sorry but it’s pathetic to me. He’s won everything. Are you kidding me? He’s doing his best. He’s jumping great. But he shouldn’t be winning with that.”
Michael Jordan – Then
Aside from the fact that he is considered the best basketball player of all time with a legendary NBA career that spanned nearly 20 years, Michael Jordan can also say that he is the proud owner of two Olympic gold medals, which he earned in 1984 at Los Angeles and in 1992 at Barcelona.
Former guard for Kansas City Larry Drew said at the time, “To be perfectly honest, I had not really heard of Michael Jordan much.We played them and I just remember, I called my brother after that exhibition game and I said, ‘There is a kid playing on this USA team, I just played against him, and we’re going to hear a lot about him in the league.'”
Michael Jordan – Now
According to Forbes in 2015, Michael Jordan is estimated to be worth over $1 billion, which is primarily attributed to his numerous endorsement deals and the phenomenal success of his shoes, Air Jordans. To add to his wealth, Jordan also holds a majority stake in the Charlotte Hornets.
As of 2013, Jordan married Yvette Prieto and the following year, they had twin daughters Victoria and Ysabel. The birth of his twins makes five kids total for Jordan, who has two sons, Jeffrey and Marcus, and a daughter, Jasmine, with his ex-wife Juanita Vanoy.
Lisa Leslie – Then
Lisa Leslie is an American professional basketball player who played eleven seasons with the Los Angeles Sparks, over the course of which she has won two WNBA championships. Aside from her career in the Women’s National Basketball Association, Leslie was also chosen for Team USA when it came to the Olympics.
She made four consecutive Olympic appearances and has won four gold medals, making her the second female basketball player to ever have that many medals. In her third Olympic appearance, she was Team USA’s all-time leading scorer, rebounder, and shot blocker and was the youngest player at age 20 in the 1992 USA Olympic Trials.
Lisa Leslie – Now
Leslie retired from professional basketball in 2009 but has kept busy with a modeling and acting career, starring in Think Like A Man, in addition to a number of television shows. Despite her other ventures, Leslie hasn’t forgotten her roots in basketball. She is now a co-owner of the Los Angeles Sparks and sometimes works as a sports commentator and analyst for NBC, ABC, and Fox Sports Net.
Of her career, Leslie told The Associated Press, “I have ‘the first’ attached to my name in a whole lot of different aspects when it comes to the sport of basketball. So, I’m enjoying being the first and I’m sure I won’t be the last because I think it’s sort of the responsibility we have as former players to try to continue to grow the sport of basketball.”
Jackie Joyner-Kersee – Then
Voted the Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th Century by Sports Illustrated for Women, Jackie Joyner-Kersee was a seasoned track and field athlete who won three gold medals, one silver, and two bronze at four different Olympic Games.
She rose to prominence at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, where she earned her first gold medals in the heptathlon and the long jump. To this day, her heptathlon world record of 7,291 points remains unbeaten. She was the first American woman to earn an Olympic gold medal in the long jump and the heptathlon.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee – Now
Following her Olympic career and other athletic pursuits, Joyner-Kersee has dedicated her life to charity. In 1988 she established the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation to provide athletic lessons and resources to youth and their families to improve their quality of life.
In 2007, she helped co-found Athletes for Hope with other renowned athletes from other sports to help other professional athletes get involved with charities. Other former athletes who helped co-found the organization include Warrick Dunn, Muhammad Ali, Mia Hamm, Jeff Gordon, Andre Agassi, and Alonzo Mourning. Jackie is currently married to her former track coach, Bob Kersee. The two married in 1986.