The Summer and Winter Olympics are always an opportunity to showcase the compelling stories of amazing athletes and this summer’s Games in Rio are no different.
Ryan Bomberger writes about US gymnast Simone Biles, who was abandoned by her father and drug-addicted mother but was then adopted by her new parents, and US cyclist Kristin Armstrong.
She left cycling to become a mother and gave birth to her son, Lucas. She returned to the sport that she loved, strengthened by being a mother. “As a mom, I feel like I’m a better cyclist. When I go home, whether I win or lose, there’s always unconditional love.”
Beach volleyball star Kerry Walsh Jennings has also reflected on motherhood and her elite athletics.
“My priorities are my faith, my family, and my career,” she said to NBC’s Joe Fryer. “I want to win a fourth gold medal, I would love to have a fourth baby.” … [My children] gave me that perspective and balance I thought I was missing. It took my game and my desire and my passion for life to the next level. I am hugely indebted to my children.”
“I feel like I was born to have babies and play volleyball.”
41-year-old gymnast Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan is yet another Olympic mom making huge sacrifices for her family. Her son’s diagnosis of leukemia drove her to go to great lengths, to make great sacrifices by switching to the German Olympic team, and to win in order to raise enough money to treat her son’s disease.
The traumatic story behind age-defying gymnast Oksana Chusovitina – a 41- year-old mother – makes her achievement even more remarkable in reaching Rio and competing in every Olympics since 1992.
In Brazil, the Uzbekistan sportswoman is up against competitors more akin in age to her 17-year-old son Alisher than herself.
And yet it was his diagnosis of leukaemia from the age of three that drove her to her incredible success.