FRIDAY 5: Inspiring American Olympic Athletes
London’s summer Olympics have been filled with amazing moments of athletic performance, touching sportsmanship — and inspiring stories about athletes (and their families) who sacrificed so much for a chance to compete against the world’s best. For this week’s Friday 5, we wanted to highlight just a few of the faces we’ve been cheering for.
ONE: Tumbling since toddlerhood, Gabby Douglas has earned the nickname “the Flying Squirrel” for her aerobatic uneven bar performances. We named her our Monday Morning Inspiration in July when secured her spot on the women’s US Olympics team after earning the highest score at the Olympic Trials in San Jose, Calif. Now she is an Olympic champion, earning the gold medal in both the individual all-around and team competitions, the first American woman to win the top prize in both events in the same Olympics.
We love this quote from her mom about how hard it was to let Gabby go away for training: “Letting go of Gabrielle was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. But it’s now one of the most rewarding things that I ever got to experience in my life because there’s no greater joy for a parent than to see their child reach their dream.”
TWO: Volleyball player Destinee Hooker is tall and powerful at 6 foot 4 with a deadly spike. On Wednesday, she scored 22 points to lead her team to victory against China and continue its pursuit of the US women’s volleyball team’s first gold medal. Did you know that she is also a star high jumper? In fact, in college Destinee won the 2009 NCAA indoor and outdoor championships in the high jump. But she doesn’t let her success go to her head. “When it comes to my career, I really just try to stay humble,” she told the San Antonio Expresss News. “It’s what my parents always tell me: ‘It’s all about what you make of it.’”
THREE: This year, Holley Mangold is competing as an Olympic weightlifter, but last year the 340-pound athlete appeared on the MTV show, “True Life: I’m a Big Girl.” We love this quote from a recent Reuters article in which she discusses her positive body image: ”I’m super comfortable with my body and a lot of people don’t have that. I like to help people be a little happier with who they are. It’s who I am.”
FOUR: Always-smiling swimmer Missy Franklin is still in high school — but she will be returning to class this year with a bunch of medals, including two goals. Missy works so hard that she has even been called a “stud” by Michael Phelps! But we like that she talked to NBC about how serious she takes her studies: ”Education is very, very important to me. And my parents are always there to help me, even on those days when I really just want to come home from practice and go to bed. They’re there to remind me that I have homework to do and I have to get it done. ”
FIVE: Gymnast Jordyn Wieber was devastated when she just missed being able to compete in the individual all-around finals. But she shined in another way: By being a great teammate. Not only did she congratulate the Americans who got to compete in the event — including all-around champ Gabby Douglas — but she went on to help her team win the overall gold medal with a stellar performance. And we loved her big smiled during her floor exercises.
What has been your favorite moment in the Olympics so far?