Olympic Medalists: Then And Now

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Every few years, the world gathers in order to watch their countries compete in feats of athleticism, as their root for their representatives to take home the gold. Let’s take a look and see what some of our favorite Olympians have been doing lately.

Leryn Franco – Then

This Paraguyan beauty competed in the javelin throw in three separate summer Olympic, the 2004 games in Athens,Greece, the 2008 games in Beijing, China, and the games in 2012 that took place in London, steadily working her way up in the final rankings.

Leryn Franco – Now

Between the 2004 and 2008 games, the stunning athlete entered herself in the 2006 Miss Universo Paraguay competition, where she was a runner up. After the 2012 Olympic games, Leryn set down her javelin for just a little while in order to act in the film, Eliza LynchQueen of Paraguay, which was produced by an Irish company. The film debuted in 2013. Franco has also done some modeling work since her first shot at winning the Olympic games, with a notable spread in the 2011 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

Apolo Ohno – Then

Apolo Ohno’s skill in short track speed skating quickly distinguished him as the favored winner in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. However, he attracted much controversy when he appeared to throw competitions in favor of other competitors winning, but still managed to take home the gold when the South Korean competitor was disqualified for getting in Ohno’s way. The 2006 games in Italy saw Ohno dominate once again as he easily emerged victorious in the 500m race.

Apolo Ohno – Now

Though Ohno remained the popular face of speed skating in America, in 2010 he failed to earn a gold medal in any of the races, despite losing a significant amount of weight since his first Olympics, and stating that he was fitter than anyone else in the competition. Like other fellow Olympians, Ohno also participated in Dancing With the Stars, winning in the show’s fourth season. He was a commentator for the 2014 games in Sochi, and most recently, he hosted the reality TV show, Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge.

Nadia Comaneci – Then

The Romanian born Nadia Comaneci is still one of the top ranking gymnasts of all time, after managing to receive several perfect scores in a variety of Olympic events. She made history not only for being the first Romanian gymnast to win the all-around title, but she also still holds the record for being the youngest all-around Olympic champion, as the minimum age requirement when she competed was only 14 years old. She won several more gold medals in Moscow in 1980, the last Olympics in which she competed.

Nadia Comaneci – Now

After her coaches defected to the United States in order to escape communist Romania while on a gymnastics tour in 1981, Nadia’s travel was strictly limited. She eventually defected to the United States as well, escaping from Romania overland in 1989. After making it to America, Bart Conner sought her out in order to help her adjust to life in America, and the two eventually became and item, before later marrying. In 2016, she was another one of the commentators for NBC.

Tonya Harding – Then

Throughout the 1980s, Tonya Harding was an up and coming figure skater, who seemed primed to take on the Olympics in 1992. She became the first female figure skater to complete a triple axel in a short program, as well as the first female to successfully land two triple axels in one competition. Despite her early skill, by the time she made her first Olympics in 1992, she couldn’t manage to land the triple axel again, and she only placed fourth.

Tonya Harding – Now

Tonya ruined her own reputation when she hired someone to break Nancy Kerrigan’s leg in order to prevent Kerrigan from making the 1994 Olympic team. The ploy didn’t work, and Tonya only placed 8th in the competition. In the early 2002’s Tonya turned to boxing, winning several matches before retiring. The competitive spirit seems to be ingrained in Tonya, who broke a racing record as recently as 2010. A film called I, Tonya has just been released documenting Tonya’s life.

Nancy Kerrigan – Then

Nancy Kerrigan competed in her first Olympics in 1992, winning the bronze in the shadow of Kristi Yamaguchi’s gold. When Yamaguchi retired, Kerrigan became one of the top skaters in the United States, even though she admitted that Yamaguchi generally performed better. Despite Tonya Harding’s hired assault on her, Kerrigan not only managed to make the 1994 Olympics, but took home the silver, while Harding didn’t even come close to taking home a medal. 1994, however, was Kerrigan’s final Olympics.

Nancy Kerrigan – Now

Like Kristi Yamaguchi, Kerrigan moved into the world of professional skating following her Olympic wins. She skated with Champions on Ice and Broadway on Ice, as well as in a figure skating adaptation of Footloose. She was a participant on Skating with Celebrities, which debuted on Fox in 2006. In March 2017, she competed in the 24th season of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars, however, unlike her fellow Olympians, Apolo Ohno and Kristi Yamaguchi, Kerrigan failed to take home the prize.

Kristi Yamaguchi – Then

Kristi Yamaguchi began an international competitive career prior to competing in the 1992 Winter Olympics, which were held in Albertville, France. She was up against a fierce slate of competition, but while other figure skaters like Tonya Harding and Japan’s Midori Ito focused on more complicated jumps like triple axles, Yamiguchi focused on doing fewer complex jumps but having impeccable technique. In the end, she managed to win the gold by not falling out of a triple axle, despite having mistakes in one routine.

Kristi Yamaguchi – Now

1992 was Yamaguchi’s only Olympic competition, but that didn’t mean she left figure skating behind. She began a non-profit called the “Always Dream Foundation” whose mission is to provide funding for children’s after school programs. Yamuguchi has made several film and television appearances as herself, and also performed as Princess Jasmine in Aladdin On Ice. In 2008, she won the sixth season of Dancing With the Stars. This year, she returned to the show for its 25th season, dancing to a jazz combination with Lindsay Sterling and Mark Ballas.

Tara Lipinski – Then

Tara Lipinski made history at the Olympic games in Nagano, Japan in 1998 when took home the gold in ladies singles before turning 16 years old. Prior to the Olympics, she was the youngest figure skater to win several world championship competitions, which focused an immense amount of media attention on her at an exceptionally young age. Bucking expectation, Lipinski decided to leave competitive skating, instead touring with professional figure skating shows, until injury and isolation contributed to her decision to leave behind life on tour.

Tara Lipinski – Now

Tara began acting after her figure skating days were over, earning a number of roles on well known television shows, which included 7th Heaven, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Malcolm in the Middle. Lipinski was offered a spot as a commentator and analyst by NBC for the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia, alongside fellow figure skater, Johnny Weir. As the pair were well received, they were brought back as “lifestyle correspondents” for the 2016 games. Lipinski has recently become a television producer for a show centering on figure skating.

Summer Sanders – Then

Summer Sanders may have just missed the cut off to make the 1988 Olympics, but it just gave her a chance to improve her skills in order to prevail in Barcelona in 1992. By the time the games were over, Sanders had won an impressive number of medals for a first time Olympian, including two gold medals for the 200m butterfly event, as well as for the 4 × 100 m medley relay. She also won a silver and a bronze medal that year.

Summer Sanders – Now

Before she stopped swimming, Sanders also began to make her name as a television personality. Acting as a sports commentator during the 1992 and 1994 swimming championships for the NCAA, Sanders was able to prove her clout as an on screen personality. She went on to pursue her career in television, and retired from swimming. In 2012, she was a contestant on Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off, and also covered the 2012 games in London that year. She currently hosts a game show on HLN.

Shannon Lee Miller – Then

When Shannon Miller first competed in the Summer Olympics that took place in Barcelona in 1992, she was only 15 years old. Though Shannon didn’t manage to take home any gold in 1992, she became the most decorated athlete in the games that year, and she earned the distinction of having won the most medals without having won gold. Shannon wasn’t discouraged, and returned to the arena in for the games in Atlanta, Georgia in 1996, and won of America’s ‘Magnificent Seven.’

Shannon Lee Miller – Now

1996 was Shannon’s last Olympics. Though she tried to make a bid for the 2000 Olympics, she decided to withdraw from the contest after an injury in the preliminary trials. Miller went on to study at the University of Houston, earning a degree in marketing and entrepreneurship, before continuing on to law school. She is part owner of a lifestyle brand that sells dietary supplements. In 2015, she released a memoir about her time competing in gymnastics under the American flag.

Dominique Dawes – Then

Dominique Dawes took the 1996 Olympics by storm as one of the Magnificent Seven. Dubbed ‘Awesome Dawesome,’ she made history as the first African-American woman to win an individual artistic gymnastics medal, and was the first black person from any country to earn gold in gymnastics. Her career has also been notable for the sheer number of winning teams she competed with in the Olympics, earning medals in 1992, 1996, and 2000. 1996, however, was the most notable year for the US gymnasts, as it was the first time they beat Russia.

Dominique Dawes – Now

Though Dominique made the 2000 Olympics her last, she wasn’t ready to leave the spotlight just yet. After gymnastics, she went on to chase a career as a actress and model. Dawes found some success as a performer, appearing in music videos for Prince and Missy Elliot, as well as the Broadway revival of Grease. In 2010, Dawes was an anchor for Yahoo Weekend News, and before the 2016 Summer Olympics, Dawes got together with other famous gymnasts for a Tide commercial that aired shortly before the games began.

Bart Conner – Then

Bart Conner began his Olympics career as the youngest competitor on the American men’s team in 1976, though he didn’t win any medals that year. He qualified for the Olympic games in 1980, which were played in Moscow, but did not attend as the United States as a whole boycotted the games in protest of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan earlier that year. By 1984, he was in peak form and managed to take home the gold in Los Angeles, California.

Bart Conner – Now

Since retiring from Olympic competition, Bart moved to Oklahoma in order to attend University of Oklahoma. He decided to remain after completing his studies, and opened a gymnastics school, which he still runs with his wife. Conner has been most notable for marrying fellow Olympic gymnast, Nadia Comaneci, whom he first met in Montreal during the 1976 Olympic games, though they did not become involved until more than a decade later. Both he and his wife take an active role in the Special Olympics as well.

 

Greg Louganis – Then

Greg Louganis made his first Olympics at 16 years old, when he competed in Montreal in 1976. He would have to wait to compete in the Olympics again until 1980, but for Louganis, it was well worth the wait. In 1984, he swept the diving competition, easily winning gold in multiple events. Even more impressive is that he was able to repeat the feat of athleticism in 1988 as well, despite getting a concussion during the preliminary events. Louganis is still considered one of greatest divers of all time.

Greg Louganis – Now

Louganis was happy to work as an actor between diving competitions, as he studied theatre while in university. He appeared in the film Touch Me in 1997, as well as several off-Broadway productions over the years. He appeared in an episode of Portlandia as himself in 2012. Louganis has recently been working as a diving coach, in addition to being an outspoken activist for LGBTQ rights. In 2017, he was honored as the Grand Marshal of the Rose Parade, which occurs in Pasadena, California.

Mia Hamm – Then

Mia Hamm is possibly the most famous female soccer player in America, as she competed in the first several iterations of the Women’s World Cup, 1991, 1995, 1999, and 2003. Additionally, she played for the United States women’s team in 1996 in Atlanta, in 2000 in Sydney, and in Athens in 2004. Hamm was the record holder for most goals scored in international soccer matches by either a male or female until 2013, when she was finally overtaken. Mia also made history as the first woman to be inducted into the World Football Hall of Fame.

Mia Hamm – Now

Mia decided to retire after the completion of the 2004 Athens game, though she finished out the year touring with the women’s team, ending her professional career on a high note as the United States beat the Mexican team, 5-0. Soccer would remain an important part of Hamm’s life, even though she no longer played professionally, as she continued to receive honor after honor for her legacy. Currently, she is part owner of Los Angeles FC and is still considered one of the best soccer players of all time.

Mike Eruzione – Then

Immortalized in several films, Mike Eurzione scored the winning goal in the 1980 Olympics during the game that was named ‘Miracle on Ice’. The United States hockey team went head to head with the Soviet team, who were favored to not only win, but defend their title, as the Soviet team had won gold in hockey for five out of the past six Winter Olympics. The win was a significant milestone, but also at the height of the Cold War, it represented a crushing embarrassment to the Soviets.

Mike Eruzione – Now

Though Eruzione was offered a contract with the New York Rangers following the Olympics, he declined, feeling that he’d already hit the most exciting achievement he could as a hockey player. Instead, he became a sportscaster, commenting on games for the New Jersey Devils, as well as covering five more Olympic games. Still, Eruzione isn’t just a spectator, as he accepted a position as an assistant coach at Boston University, which he did for three seasons. He is also the Director of Social Outreach for BU.

Peggy Fleming – Then

Peggy Fleming distinguished herself in 1968, as the only American to win a gold medal during the games in Grenoble, France. However, the United States had lost most of its figure skating team in a plane crash in 1961, which devastated their prospects for the next few years, making Peggy’s win all the more important. After 1968, Peggy retired from competitive figure skating, instead appearing on a number of televised skating specials, including on the Perry Como Christmas Special in 1974, as well as touring with Ice Capades.

Peggy Fleming – Now

In 1981, Peggy began commenting on figure skating for ABC, which has included covering the Winter Olympics for a number of years. She also made a cameo in the 2007 Will Ferrell comedy, Blades of Glory, where she played a judge. Peggy and her husband, Greg Jenkins were the owners of a winery for a while, called Fleming Jenkins Vineyards & Winery. Together they produced wines with cute names like ‘Choreography Cabernet’ and “San Francisco Bay Syrah Rosé,’ however, the winery closed in 2011.

Oscar De La Hoya – Then

Oscar De La Hoya is Mexican American dual citizen, who competed in the 1992 Summer Olympics as a boxer, kicking his career off with a gold medal in the lightweight division. De La Hoya had been competing in amateur matches for several years, but on her deathbed, his mother told him she wanted him to become an Olympic gold medalist. He managed to upset a number of favorites in his Olympic matches as he vanquished both Julio Gonzalez and Marco Rudolph.

Oscar De La Hoya – Now

The 1992 games in Barcelona were De La Hoya’s only Olympic games, but it marked his entrance into the world of professional boxing. He had a prolific boxing career, competing in multiple different weight classes, during which he managed to achieve world titles in six different weight classes. Due to his large number of pay per view fights, he held the record for most money earned from pay per view until Floyd Mayweather broke his record. He also owns a boxing promotional firm.

Charles Barkley – Then

Charles Barkley first attempted to join the Olympic team in 1984, but in the final round, got cut due to poor defense. It wouldn’t be his last opportunity, however, and he made the United States Men’s Basketball teams in both 1992 and 1996. 1992 was the first year the Olympic committee allowed NBA players to compete, and with Barkley leading the way, the American team dominated the court in both 1992 and 1996. Barkley managed score an impressive number of times during the games, earning America two gold medals.

Charles Barkley – Now

Barkley was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers during his junior year of college, while he was studying at Auburn University. His NBA career spanned over 16 years, as he began playing pro in 1984 and retired in 2000. Before the end of his career, he also played for the Phoenix Suns and the Houston Rockets. Since retirement, Barkley worked as a sports commentator, appearing on TNT before games, as well as giving recaps during halftime. In May 2017, Barkley debuted as the host of a show on TNT titled American Race.

Shaun White – Then

Shaun White may have started off as an all-American skateboarder, but he quickly realized that he could use his talents to compete in the Olympics. His first games were in 2006, where he took home the gold for the snowboarding half pipe. Shaun has been competing in the X-Games since 2003, when he was only 17 years old. He is the record holder for the most number of X-Games medals, as well as a record holder for the highest score on the halfpipe, records he broke first in 2006 and 2010.

Shaun White – Now

Since becoming one of the most talked about athletes in the 2014 winter games, Shaun White has maintained his high public profile. He has shared that his popularity has lead to multiple film offers, most of which he has turned down, however. He is the record holder in snowboarding for consecutive gold medals, on top of his high scoring records. Most recently, White found himself in another snowboarding accident, but still plans to compete in the 2018 winter games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Jenny Thompson – Then

Jenny Thompson competed in her first Olympics in  1992, but against the Chinese team, who tested positive for steroid use after the games were over. She continued to swim during university while attending Stanford, but didn’t score high enough to make an individual event in 1996. She did, however, earn several gold medals in the American team relays. With several gold medals under her belt in the team competitions, Thompson managed to become one of the most decorated Olympic athletes in history.

Jenny Thompson – Now

Though she considered retirement following the games in 2000, Thompson came back for one last round, joining the American team in Sydney in 2004, and was the oldest member of the team, at age 31. Thompson was attending medical school when she came out of retirement, and graduated Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons two years later. Thompson is currently practicing medicine as an anesthesiologist in Portland, Maine, after having done her residency as well as a fellowship in two separate Boston hospitals.

McKayla Maroney – Then

McKayla Maroney was one of the five girls on the American gymnastics team who took home gold in 2012. It was Maroney who was crucial to the American’s winning gold in the team event that year. During the individual vault event, however, Maroney went viral after showing her disappointment with only winning silver for herself. Maroney managed to win the silver despite having broken a bone in her toe, which she acknowledged was a great accomplishment for her athleticism.

McKayla Maroney – Now

After the 2012 Olympics, McKayla was prepared to continue competing, and was still touring as a gymnast, but unfortunately she broke one of her legs, which put her out of commission for a while. Still she was determined to continue competing as a gymnast, until she was forced to have surgery on her knee, after which, she decided it would be best for her health to retire. Maroney now considers herself an aspiring rap artist, though she has drawn criticism for recent videos posted on her Instagram.

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