Olympic athletes are more than elite competitors; many achieve celebrity status and become national heroes. Michael Phelps, Misty May-Treanor, Kerri Walsh, Abby Wambach and Tyson Gay are all household names in the U.S.
The 2012 Summer Olympics are full of memorable moments and breakout stars. Yet we were recently reminded of some older heroes of past Games. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) honors many of them in a feature they call Our Favorite Olympians: Where Are They Now?
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, we are pleased to flatter AARP by augmenting their list with a few of our own favorite former Olympians.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Still revered in the track & field world, Joyner-Kersee won three gold, one silver and two bronze medals in the Olympics, and she still holds the world record in the heptathlon. After the Olympics, Joyner-Kersee co-founded Athletes for Hope and started the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation.
Nancy Kerrigan. She won the silver medal in figure skating at the 1994 Winter Olympics, despite having been clubbed in the knee by rival Tonya Harding’s ex-husband just six weeks before the Games. Today, Kerrigan is a married mother of four athletes. Future Olympic dream team perhaps?
Bruce Jenner. Before he married Kris Kardashian and became the stepfather of her famous siblings, Jenner won the gold medal in decathalon at the 1976 Summer Olympic Games in Montreal.
Mike Eruzione. This American ice hockey legend inspired the Disney film Miracle by leading the U.S. team to a gold medal over the heavily favored Soviets at the 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid. Currently the director of athletic development at Boston University, he also does charity work and motivational speaking.
Carl Lewis. Sports Illustrated’s “Olympian of the Century,” “King Carl” Lewis won 10 Olympic medals (nine gold). He later became an actor and, in 2011, he contemplated running for a Democratic senate seat in New Jersey.
Photo: Mike Powell/Allsport