These athletes pushed through the pain barrier to prove to the world how good they were and win medals at the Olympics. There is life after the Olympics though, and this is what these former Olympic medalists are doing now.
Dominique Moceanu was barely allowed to compete at the 1996 Olympics because she was just 14, making her the youngest athlete to fight for gold. Age wasn’t a stumbling block for Moceanu however, and she took home the gold medal in the individual all-around.
Moceanu had to retire from the sport just four years later due to injuries. She went to college and earned a degree in Business Management before writing about the trials and tribulations of putting her body on the line at such a young age.
Nadia Comaneci made history when she competed at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. She was the first gymnast to ever record a perfect score from the judges, but she wasn’t done there, and she did it again at the same event.
Comaneci won gold and silver at both the 1976 and 1980 Olympic Games, and she is recognized as one of the greatest Olympians of all time. Today she is married to fellow gymnast Bart Conner, and the pair are very involved in fundraising for charity.
While it was a team effort, Shannon Miller was very much the big hope of the “Magnificent Seven” heading into the 1996 Olympics. She didn’t disappoint American fans, and Miller became one of the all-time great Olympians.
Miller had earned the right to be the main star of the 1996 Olympic team after picking up five medals at the 1992 Games in Barcelona. She added another two golds in 1996, cementing her legacy as one of the greatest gymnasts ever. Post-gymnastics Miller created her own foundation, which tackles childhood obesity.
When she was just three years old, Shawn Johnson’s parents made the decision to take their daughter to a gymnastics class. That decision led to some personal greatness for Johnson, who represented her country at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Johnson grabbed gold on the balance beam and three silver medals for the gymnastics team. The gymnast wanted to win more medals, but after suffering a torn ACL in a skiing accident, she had to call time on her competitive career.
It was practically written in stone that Nastia Liukin would become an elite gymnast, as both her parents were champions in the sport. She was born in Russia but moved to the United States when she was two years old, and competed for the country she lived in.
Liukin won five medals in total at the Beijing Olympic Games. She retired in 2012 after failing to make the Olympic team, and began a career in the media, appearing on shows such as Dancing with the Stars and Ninja Warrior.
Up until Michael Phelps broke her record in 2012, Larisa Latynina was the athlete with the most Olympic medals in their collection. The gymnast earned a total of 18 medals during her career, including nine golds, between the 1956 and 1964 Olympics.
Latynina competed for the Soviet Union and represented them as a part of their gymnastics coaching team when she retired from competing. With Latynina as coach, the Soviet ladies won gold at the 1968, 1972, and 1978 Olympic Games, but now she is retired.
Mary Lou Retton
Mary Lou Retton became an American icon after her triumph at the 1984 Olympics. She won gold for the individual all-around, before also bagging a couple of silvers and a bronze medal too.
Retton retired from gymnastics just two years after her Olympic success, and she made several cameo appearances in movies and TV shows. The former gymnast appeared in the 2018 version of Dancing with the Stars, but was eliminated in the sixth week of the competition.
When the United States hosted the Olympics in 1996, the country was looking for a hero to step up. There were actually many American athletes who made the headlines that year, but the one who stole people’s hearts was Kerri Strug.
Strug was a part of the “Magnificent Seven” team of gymnasts where the USA’s hopes of gold lay. The gymnast actually injured herself in her routine leading into the finals, but that didn’t stop her from coming back and taking gold in the team event.
Paul Hamm is considered to be one of the most successful male gymnasts in American Olympic history. He is the only American gymnast to win the all-around title at both the Olympics and World Championships. Hamm won his gold medal at the 2004 Olympics, as well as two silvers for the high bar and team event.
The gymnast has tried several comebacks in both 2008 and 2012, but was unable to make the Olympic team. After his athletic career, Hamm appeared on the Japanese version of Ninja Warrior.
Before she was known as a singer and songwriter, Carly Patterson was an incredibly successful gymnast. Patterson was the all-around champion at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and has been inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame.
After the 2004 Olympics, Patterson discovered an injury in her back and she was forced to retire from the sport. In 2007 she signed a record deal with MusicMind Records and has recorded hits such as Temporary Life and Here I Am.
Winning a medal for your country at the Olympics is an amazing achievement, and Annia Hatch came home with two silvers in 2004. Annia began her gymnastics career at the age of four in Cuba, and she represented her home country until the 2004 Olympics.
After her athletic career, Hatch turned to coaching to mentor future generations of gymnasts, plus she has developed her own clothing line. In 2016 she also launched her Annia Cares organization to support athletes and their families across the world.
Kyla Ross spent many years as an elite gymnast, earning herself a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics in London. Ross competed in the team event for Team USA, getting to compete alongside her long-time friend McKayla Maroney.
The gymnasts became good friends after meeting in a gym and would share car journeys to training together because they lived so close to each other. Ross left the world of elite gymnastics behind her and is now enjoying competing in her passion at college.
This four-time gold medal-winning gymnast has become one of the most famous faces in her sport thanks to the incredible achievements she keeps making.
Biles took four golds at the 2016 Olympics in Rio in the team, all-around, floor exercise, and vault, while she earned a bronze on the balance beam. The gymnast took a hiatus in 2017, entering Dancing with the Stars, finishing in fourth place. She is back on the Olympics trail now though, and is expected to be a star competitor in Tokyo.
Former artistic gymnast Jordyn Wieber shot to fame after scoring a gold in the team event at the 2012 Olympics. Her accomplishments in London were even more impressive when she revealed she had been competing with a stress fracture in one of her legs.
Wieber retired from competitive gymnastics in 2015, and in her senior year of college she turned to coaching. She has been coaching the Arkansas Razorbacks gymnastics team since April 2019, making her the first former Olympic champion to take the job.
Dominique Dawes was another member of the “Magnificent Seven,” and she was just as impressive in 1996 as her teammates. The gymnast took home the gold medal for the women’s all-around event, and she became the first Olympian to win medals in three separate Summer Games.
Her performances over the years earned her a position in the United States government, where she has worked as a sports advisor. Dawes also teamed up with McKayla Maroney as they worked as commentators at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
In 1984 Bart Conner wowed audiences with his skill by taking home two gold medals. The gymnast was a hit on the parallel bars and has become an influential figure in American gymnastics today.
Conner was an admirer of Comaneci before he met her, and arranged to be a guest on The Pat Sajak Show when he heard she was appearing on it. He made a big impression on her, and the couple married in 1996. Afterward, they set up the Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy, which they run together.
It was actually Gabrielle Douglas’ sister who got her interested in gymnastics in the first place. Her sister began teaching Gabrielle at the age of three, and within a few short years, she became a champion in Virginia.
Winning became a habit for Douglas, who helped the United States take a gold in London 2012. Douglas continued that success into 2016 and won another gold in Rio. She became the star of her own reality show, Douglas Family Gold, which ran for one season in 2016.
Summer Sanders has lived an eventful life, and it all began with her success at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. The swimmer took home four gold medals in the pool that summer, and it set her up for a career in front of the camera.
She became a game show icon for kids in the 1990s thanks to her role as the first female host of ‘Figure It Out’ in 1997. Sanders has also worked mainly as a sports commentator since retiring from the swimming pool.
Chad Le Clos
When Chad Le Clos burst onto the scene, everyone thought Michael Phelps had a real rival in the swimming pool. Le Clos made no secret of his desire to rival Phelps, and victory must have been sweet for the South African after he beat the American to gold in 2012.
The swimmer claimed to have retired in 2012, but came back to the sport for the 2016 Olympics. This turnaround is rumored to have been the reason why Phelps chose to also come out of retirement in 2016.
As far as swimming success goes, Dara Torres had one of the greatest careers an athlete could hope for. She won a total of 12 Olympic medals, four of which were gold, in a career that spanned over 20 years.
The only thing that stopped Torres from going for longer was the fact she had to have surgery to fix her knees, otherwise she might still be competing today. Torres quit swimming competitively in 2012 and since then has taken up a career in modeling and TV reporting.
Although he is an American hero, Mark Spitz was actually born in Russia before moving to the United States when he was two. He learned to swim in Hawaii before moving to Sacramento to train, and it paid off as he won a total of nine Olympic gold medals in the pool.
Spitz was one of the most successful swimmers in the pool until Michael Phelps came along and practically blew his records out of the water. These days Spitz does some commentary and commercial work to keep himself busy.
While Mark Spitz is often viewed as an American swimming hero, Matt Biondi can be overlooked, even though he won the same number of medals. Biondi won a total of 11 medals in the Olympic swimming pool, with eight of those being gold.
He competed between 1984 and 1992, and these days he brings his swimming knowledge to the younger generation. Not only does he teach his local swimming team, but he’s also a math teacher and is shaping young people’s minds for the future.
To put it simply, there has never been an Olympic athlete quite like Michael Phelps. He holds the record for most gold medals won by an individual athlete, 23, and the most medals too, 28.
Phelps briefly retired but came back to dominate the 2016 Rio Olympics to confirm him as a record-breaker. The swimmer has now officially retired and can be found out on the golf course these days rather than in the swimming pool.
Brooke Bennett had to overcome a lot when she won her first Olympic gold medal in 1996. Firstly, she was coping with the passing of her grandfather just a few days before her medal race.
Secondly, this was the last race in the career of Janet Beth Evans, so her victory was overshadowed by Evans’ retirement. Brooke hit her peak in 2000 though, and she won two golds at the Games in Sydney. Despite her success, Bennett was unable to qualify for the 2004 Olympics, and she retired.
Amanda Beard was just 14 when she went to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, taking home a gold and two silvers at that event. She was pictured clutching her teddy bear on the medal stand, where she became the second-youngest American Olympic medalist in history.
In the 2004 Olympics in Sydney, Beard broke the world record for the 200m breaststroke, adding more gold to her collection. Beard moved into the world of modeling, and she also became a vocal activist for PETA (People Against the Unethical Treatment of Animals).
Eight-time Olympic medalist Allison Schmitt has so far competed at three Olympic Games, and she can’t be written off making it four. Her first Games came in 2008 when she won her first Olympic medal, a bronze, before tasting real success in London.
In 2012 Schmitt won three gold medals, including the 200m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle relay. Schmitt rounded off her collection in 2016 with a gold and a silver at the Games in Rio alongside Katie Ledecky, Leah Smith, and Maya DiRado.
Although he has attracted some controversy later in his career, there is no denying the talent swimmer Ryan Lochte has in the pool. Lochte is the current world record holder in both the 200m and 400m individual medley courses.
The swimmer has 12 Olympic medals but was banned from the national team following a claim he was held up at gunpoint in Rio, which was widely denied by authorities. Away from the pool, Lochte appeared in the 2019 version of ‘Celebrity Big Brother,’ but he lasted just 13 days.
Katie Ledecky made a huge splash in the swimming world during her Olympic and athletic career. The swimmer won a total of five gold medals at the Summer Games and is also the world record holder in the 1500-, 800-, and 400-meter freestyle.
Ledecky made her Olympic debut at just 15 years old in 2012, before cementing her legacy in 2016. Even in 2019, Ledecky appears to be as dominant in the pool as ever, and her appearance at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo will be hotly anticipated.
Chinese Olympic diver Chen Ruolin is just 26 years old and potentially could have appeared in another Summer Games, but she was forced to retire due to injury.
Diving from the board at 10m is a risky business, and after dominating at the individual and synchronized events for the past three Olympics, Roulin will miss 2020. She has five Olympic gold medals but injured her neck in 2016, which meant she couldn’t add any more medals to her collection.
Inge de Bruijn
It took Dutch swimmer Inge de Bruijn a while to discover her favorite sport, and when she did, it also took her a little while to find success.
Once she got into a rhythm, the swimmer never looked back and took her first Olympic gold medal in 2000, when she won three events and came second in another. Four years later, de Bruijn added another gold, along with a silver and two bronze medals. After her swimming career, de Bruijn became the face of a Dutch lingerie company.
Gary Hall Jr.
In eight years Gary Hall Jr. appeared at three Olympic Games, winning a total of five gold and ten medals overall. His father, Gary Hall Sr., was also an Olympic level swimmer, so he really had it in his genes.
Hall Jr. was 21 when he appeared at his first Olympic Games with just six years of top level experience behind him. Later in life Hall Jr. would save his sister from a shark attack by punching one in the face until it let her go.
Amy Van Dyken
When Amy Van Dyken entered the Olympic Games in 1996, few could have predicted the impact she would have on the competition. She became the first American female athlete to win four gold medals at a single Olympic Games.
At the 2000 Olympics, Van Dyken was struggling with injuries but still left Sydney with two gold medals. In 2014 Van Dyken suffered an ATV accident which left her paralyzed from the waist down, and now she competes in adaptive CrossFit competitions.
Missy Franklin made her Olympic debut in 2012 at the age of 17, and she left London with four gold medals and a bronze. Franklin broke two world records in 2012 and hopes were high for 2016.
The swimmer still won gold in Rio, in the 4 x 200m freestyle relay, but struggled in the individual events. Franklin had a hard time regaining the pace she once had in the pool and decided to retire from elite swimming in 2018, at the age of 23.
Janet Beth Evans
When Janet Beth Evans got in the water she was destined to swim fast, even if she did have an unorthodox style. She became known for her freestyle technique largely because it helped the swimmer win four Olympic gold medals in the space of four years.
Evans first grabbed two golds at the 1988 Olympics before repeating the feat in 1992. The swimmer had worked as part of the team to bring the Olympics back to the United States, and in 2028 it will be hosted in LA.
When Ian Thorpe entered the swimming pool at the Olympic Games in Sydney, 2000, he was cheered on by a huge home crowd. On his way to taking three golds, Thorpe broke three world records, making him an instant star among sports fans.
Michael Phelps even considers Thorpe one of his heroes. Despite being allergic to chlorine, Thorpe became a multiple Olympic champion after taking gold in 2004 too. These days Thorpe is an activist for the LGBT community and is an ambassador for fashion giant Armani.
During her school swimming career, Natalie Coughlin gave people a glimpse of her full potential. Before she graduated school she had won 12 NCAA titles and five national titles.
That was just the start for her, and she joined the Olympic swimming team in 2004, where she won two golds at the Summer Games that year. Coughlin broke the world record during her 100m backstroke victory in 2008, becoming the first woman to swim the distance in under a minute. Today she is a brand ambassador and investor.
Although he spent a lot of his time in the water, Gregory Louganis also spent plenty of time tumbling through the air. The Olympic diver won a total of two gold medals for Team USA, firstly at the 1984 Olympics and then again in 1988.
Louganis became the first diver in Olympic history to receive a perfect score of 10 from every single judge for one of his dives. Since retiring, Louganis has become an activist for LGBT rights and is a mentor for the United States diving team.
Figure skater Nancy Kerrigan showed that even when life puts a bump in the road, how you overcome that can speak volumes about your character. She was at the heart of a scandal after her rival’s husband hired someone to attempt to cripple her.
That rival was Tonya Harding, but it didn’t stop Kerrigan as she returned to full fitness and fought to win a silver medal at the 1994 Winter Olympics. Since retiring from skating, Kerrigan has appeared in a host of TV shows, including Dancing with the Stars.
Some athletes seem to take to a sport like it was meant to be, and Dorothy Hamill is one of those competitors. She was only eight when she first began skating, but four years later, Hamill won her first competition.
When she was 20, she won gold at the 1976 Winter Olympics, and she was the pioneer of her very own figure skating move. It’s called the ‘Hamill Camel,’ which turns a camel spin into a sit spin. Since retiring, Hamill found further success on the ice through Broadway on Ice.
During the Swinging Sixties, Peggy Fleming was having the time of her life. She became the women’s Olympic figure skating champion in 1968, as well as the world champion from 1966-88.
Her many victories turned her into one of the United States’ best competitors on the ice. After her Olympic success, Fleming returned to the USA and became a skater for ice shows, and has been covering the Winter Olympics for many years as a commentator.
Scott Hamilton’s signature move on the ice is the backflip, a move that few skaters dream of doing. He won four U.S. Championships in a row from 1981 to 1984 and finished it off with a gold medal at the Winter Games.
Along with his acrobatics, Hamilton was known for his dazzling footwork on the ice. In retirement, Hamilton moved into other fields, including charity, and he has written three books. Hamilton has battled cancer three times so far, with his latest diagnosis being a brain tumor in 2016.
In 2002 Sarah Hughes became the Olympic figure skating champion in Salt Lake City. She first stepped foot on the ice at the age of three, and in 1998 she won the junior title at the United States Championships.
Just four years after that triumph, she became the Olympic champion in 2002, but she never returned to that stage again. Hughes went to college after the Olympics, before taking a year off in 2005 to skate on a professional ice dancing tour.
Sasha Cohen has left a legacy after becoming the last American female skater to receive an individual medal at the Olympics. The skater placed second in 2006, but since then, no American female skater has managed to take an individual medal.
After the 2006 Winter Olympics, Cohen announced she was taking a break from skating competitively and went on the road with the Stars on Ice tour. She announced her intent to compete at the Olympics in 2010 but was not selected for the team.
There was just no denying the immense talent that Tara Lipinski had, and at the age of 14 years, nine months, and 10 days, she became the youngest skater to win a World Figure Skating title.
That title was won in 1997, and at the Winter Olympics in 1998, Lipinski won gold in the ladies’ singles. Lipinski developed hip problems not long after her Olympics triumph, and so began her TV career. She was a guest star in various TV sitcoms before beginning work as a sports commentator in 2013.
Figure skater Meryl Davis is one half of the gold medal-winning partnership who triumphed in Sochi 2014. Her skating partner is Charlie White, and together they earned a silver in 2010 and went one better at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
After great success on the competitive circuit, Meryl Davis announced in 2017 that she would be stepping down from competitive skating. Fans can still see her on the ice though, and she performs with her skating partner in ice shows.
Charlie White is the other half of the gold medal-winning partnership with Meryl Davis. His Olympic medal collection is identical to his partner’s, because he won his medal alongside her.
White’s gold in Sochi will no doubt remain one of his personal highlights for the rest of his life. Since 2017 White has also quit skating competitively. He and Davis went head to head in the talent show Dancing with the Stars in 2014, with Davis winning the entire show that season.
German Katarina Witt is one of the most successful figure skaters in history. Not only did she take two Olympic gold medals in 1984 and 1988 for East Germany, but she also won four World Championships and six European Championships in a row.
After she quit skating on the ice, Witt didn’t shy away from the spotlight. She had cameos in Jerry Maguire and Everybody Loves Raymond. In 2013 she had her first leading role, playing a figure skater on a German TV drama.
The ice can be a lonely place for a singles figure skater, but Yuna Kim was never alone as she often had the fans behind her. In 2010 Kim won gold at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver and silver at the following competition in 2014.
After the 2014 Winter Olympics, Kim announced that she would be quitting competitive skating and hasn’t returned to the ice since. Kim remains a popular figure in her native South Korea and, besides lighting the Olympic flame in 2018, she appears in many commercials.
What often makes a competition more exciting is if it’s a close-run thing, and that’s what happened at the 1988 Winter Olympics. It was dubbed “The Battle of the Brians” as Brian Boitano went head to head against Brian Orser.
They had both won a World Title and were expected to contest the gold medal, which Boitano won. Since leaving the ice behind, Boitano remains a popular figure, and he even had his own cooking show, titled What Would Brian Boitano Make?
Oksana Baiul can be seen as a hero in her home country of Ukraine after she became the first and only Ukranian skater to win an Olympic gold. Baiul is also the first Olympic champion of the independent Ukraine in any sport.
Once she won the Olympic gold in 1994, Baiul decided to turn pro and make a name for herself on the skating tour circuit. Since retiring Baiul created her own fashion line, and in 2015, she married her manager Carlo Farina.
Although she has the name for it, when Gracie Gold competed at the 2014 Winter Olympics, she took home the bronze medal in the team event. Gold started skating when she was just eight years old, and wanted to succeed so much she took ballet lessons to improve her performance.
The skater missed out on the 2018 Olympics and took a job as a coach, but has since committed to competing again. She is aiming to be a part of the United States team that competes at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Kaetlyn Osmond has the complete set of Olympic medals after taking the gold, silver, and bronze during her competitive skating career. She won three medals for Canada at the 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympics.
Osmond had an ice skating rink named after her in 2014 after her Olympic success, and she ended her career on a high after taking first place at the World Championships in 2018. In 2019, Skate Canada made the announcement that Osmond would be retiring from competition.
It’s not often that a figure skating duo comes along and dominates the medals at the Olympics like Tessa Virtue and her partner Scott Moir. Virtue started her skating career young and was paired with Moir when she was just eight years old after her coach, and aunt, put them together.
That lifelong bond helped the duo win Olympic gold in the ice dance competition in 2010 and 2018, and take the silver medal at the 2014 Games. The pair stopped skating competitively in 2019 after 22 years together.
Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue really have shared their lives since they were young. Moir was 10 years old when Virtue became his skating partner, and the pair never looked back from the moment they were together.
Three Olympic medals is an amazing haul for the duo, and they both agreed to call it a day on their careers together. The pair have only just stepped away from competing on the ice, so their next steps in life remain a mystery.
When he stepped onto the Olympic ice rink in 2010, Evan Lysacek made quite an impression on everyone in the United States. That year he took the men’s singles gold and was later named SportsMan of the Year by the United States Olympics Committee.
Lysacek was the last American male solo figure skater to win an Olympic medal. Lysacek hasn’t returned to the Winter Games since 2010. He hasn’t announced retirement, but in 2016 Lysacek was inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame.
Kristi Yamaguchi was born to skate. All the time spent on the ice was worth it in 1992 when she was judged to be the Olympic figure skating champion. This turned Yamaguchi into a cultural icon in the United States, and she used that fame to good use in the years following her retirement.
Yamaguchi is now a published children’s author after penning a book with her husband, Tim Bowers. Dancing remained important, and she was the sixth winner of Dancing with the Stars.
Michelle Kwan’s parents came to the United States from Hong Kong, and she very quickly developed a passion for figure skating. When Kwan was just five years old she laced up her first pair of skates, and within a year, had won her first skating competition.
By the age of 13, she came eighth in the World Championships in 1994, making her a reserve for the Olympic team. She had to wait until 1998 for her Olympic dream to come true, where she won silver at Nagano.
Defeat was never an option for champion hurdler Edwin Moses, who took home the gold at two Olympic Games, in 1976 and 1984. His discipline was the 400m hurdles, and between the years of 1977 and 1987, Moses won a total of 107 finals in a row.
He set four world records during his decade of dominance and retired from the track in the early 2000s. Moses still enjoys racing, although now he prefers to let gravity do the hard work as he participates in bobsleigh events.
Usain Bolt became the fastest man in the world when he smashed the world record on his way to 100m glory. His events were the 100m, 200m, and 100m relay.
Bolt won gold in every Olympic event he competed for, taking his total to eight from 2008 to 2016 Olympics. When Bolt retired he tried his best to get into another sport, soccer, and even had trials with several professional teams. Things didn’t work out though, and Bolt officially retired from sports in 2019.
Carl Lewis became an American hero after winning a total of four gold medals at the 1984 Olympic Games. In total he has nine Olympic gold medals to his name, and 10 medals overall in his Olympics career.
Lewis also won the World Championships 10 times before hanging up his racing cleats in 1997, after 20 years on the track. In 2011, the former athlete attempted to run for the New Jersey Senate, but was unable to complete his journey due to residence ineligibility.
Even time doesn’t seem to be able to catch up to sprinter Allyson Felix. The Olympian has won six gold medals so far in her career, but she’s not done yet.
In 2019 Felix won her 12th and 13th World Championships and is planning on making the USA’s Olympic team for Tokyo in 2020. Felix is dedicated to winning and has barely taken a break from the track her entire career. She will be hoping to add to her Olympic gold collection in 2020.
Any athlete who breaks the world record has to be pleased with how their career turned out, and sprinter Maurice Green had a career to be envious of. His specialty was the 100m, and he took gold at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney for the individual and relay events.
Four years later, Green won silver and bronze medals in Athens. His world record was surpassed by Usain Bolt, and since retiring, he has become a TV personality, appearing on reality shows such as Blind Date and Dancing with the Stars.
It was all about the gold for sprinter Michael Johnson when it came to the Olympic Games. He won his first gold in the 4 x 400m relay in 1992, before triumphing in the 400m and 200m solo events in 1996.
Johnson’s final Olympic gold came in 2000 when he retained his crown as the 400m champion. Since retiring, Johnson works as a commentator for athletics, mainly for the BBC. In 2018 Johnson suffered a stroke but has fought to get “back to normal” since it happened.
Long-distance runner Mohamed ‘Mo’ Farah is one of the most successful runners in Olympic history. He won his first gold medals at the 2012 Olympic Games, in his home country, when he won the 5,000m and 10,000m events.
Four years later and Farah won both golds again, making him the second athlete to win successive Olympic doubles in those events. Farah still runs today and has transitioned to marathon running and is considering competing at the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
Sanya Richards-Ross is a hugely successful 400m runner with the United States, and she won gold medals at three different Olympic Games. Her first gold came in 2004, with the last coming in 2012.
Richards-Ross was regarded as the best 400m runner in the world for a decade after being ranked world number one from 2005 to 2009, before rising to the top again in 2012. Richards-Ross had to retire following a devastating injury to her hamstring at the Olympics trials in 2016, ending her incredible running career.
The hurdles is an event that requires speed and bravery because one misstep and you can end up flat on your face as everyone else runs past you. Joanna Hayes made sure to watch her step all the way to a gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in the 100m hurdles.
Originally she was a 400-meter hurdler, but her pace meant that the 100m dash was better suited to her skills. Since retiring, Hayes has moved into coaching, and she teaches track and cross country in a California school.
When it comes to running the relay, you have to hope that everyone in the team runs their best race. DeeDee Trotter was one of the most consistent 400m relay runners in American history, winning multiple gold medals at both the Olympics and World Championships.
Her first gold came in 2004, and Trotter maintained her excellent pace all the way through until her last Olympic gold in 2012. Since retiring, Trotter has worked as an ambassador for Education First and is also a motivational speaker around the world.
Lauryn Williams is one of just five athletes to win medals at both the Summer and Winter Olympics, and she was the first American woman to do it. She first made her name as a 100m sprinter for the United States, winning silver in Athens and gold in the relay in London.
Williams left the running track behind for something much colder, and she became a bobsleigh competitor. Her pace helped the United States to a silver medal in 2014 in the two-woman bobsleigh event.
Shalane Flanagan took a silver medal in her first Olympic Games in 2008 for the 10,000m event. She then competed in cross country before transitioning to marathon running later in her career.
While her Olympic success remains the single silver medal, she had plenty of success as a marathon runner too, even winning the New York Marathon in 2017. After many years of long runs, Shalane Flanagan decided it was time to hang up her sneakers and retire in 2019 to focus on her coaching career.
British middle-distance runner Kelly Holmes became a hero in her home country after her success at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. She won a double gold medal for the 800m and 1,500m events.
For her achievements, Holmes was made a dame by the Queen, which is the highest honor the British monarch can hand out. Since retiring, Holmes has made several appearances as a commentator and even tackled a survival mission with Bear Grylls in 2015.
Angelo Taylor is one of the fastest athletes ever around the 400m hurdles track. He won gold medals at the Olympics in Sydney and Beijing, and a silver in London. Not only was he an Olympic champion, but Taylor is also a three-time World Champion.
In 2012, Taylor was part of the American 400m relay team, which won silver, the first time Team USA hadn’t taken gold since 1980. Taylor worked as a youth coach after retiring but was suspended due to misconduct allegations in 2019.
In 1992, British sprinter Linford Christie made himself a national hero after winning gold in the 100m dash. He is one of Britain’s most highly decorated athletes ever, and Christie became the first European to break the 10-second barrier in the 100m.
Before he won gold in Barcelona, Christie picked up two silver medals at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. Since retiring, Christie has worked as a TV presenter for the BBC and featured on the reality show I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! in 2010.
For five years, Jeremy Wariner was dominant in the world of 400m sprinting. He would win three Olympic gold medals from 2004 to 2008 while adding five World Championship golds from 2005 to 2009.
Wariner failed to make the Olympic team in 2012, and despite a brief comeback in 2013, he retired from the sport. The athlete still remains involved in sports today, and in 2018, he played flag football in the American Flag Football League, with his team being declared the pro team champions.
While her Olympic career wasn’t littered with gold medals, 400-meter sprinter Christine Ohuruogu did become an Olympic champion in 2008. She won the gold in Beijing for the 400m and a bronze the same year for the 400m relay.
In her home Olympics in London, Ohuruogu took a silver after losing out to Sanya Richards-Ross. She retired in 2017, citing injuries hampering her speed while a commitment to her studies also began taking up more of her time.
Although she only won one Olympic gold medal, Carmelita Jeter was actually one of the fastest women ever to run the 100m. She posted the second-fastest time ever with 10.64 seconds and holds three of the top ten fastest times ever run in the 100m.
Jeter’s time to shine was the 2012 Olympics, when she won a gold, silver, and bronze medal in the 4 x 100m relay, 100m, and 200m, respectively. She continued running up until 2017, when she was forced to retire due to injury.
Dawn Harper had to overcome injury early on in her career to help her make it as an Olympic champion. She tore her PCL and Meniscus before an IHSA sectional meet at her school, but still ran and took silver in that race.
Years later, she would win gold at the Beijing Olympic after sneaking into the team by .007 seconds. Harper now competes under the name Harper-Nelson following her marriage to Alonzo Nelson, in a wedding which saw her appear on the reality show Say Yes to the Dress.
Australian runner Cathy Freeman became the first indigenous athlete to ever win an Olympic medal. Her main discipline was the 400m, and after earning a silver in 1996, the pressure was on to grab gold at the next Olympics.
At Sydney 2000, Freeman managed to bring home the gold before her home crowd and has become an Australian icon since. After retiring from the track in 2003 to spend time with her family, Freeman started the Indigenous Education Foundation to help children in need.
Shaun White is really living his best life. He debuted at the Winter Olympics in 2006 at the age of 20. There was practically one guarantee every time the Winter Olympics came along, and that was that Shaun White was going to win a medal for snowboarding.
Of his four Winter Olympics, White won gold at three of them and shocked people when he went home empty-handed in 2014. White is also a pro skateboarder and plays in the rock band Bad Things.
Sir Chris Hoy
Racing is in Sir Chris Hoy’s blood, and he has been a winner for most of his life. His first taste of Olympic cycling success came in 2004 when he won gold after receiving a silver medal at the 2000 Games in Sydney.
His taste for success grew, and in total, he won six gold medals at the Olympics. Once he left the velodrome behind, Hoy got behind the wheel of a race car, because he still needed the thrill of leaving people in his dust.
Sir Steve Redgrave
Not every athlete can keep coming back every four years and compete at the highest level. Rower Sir Steve Redgrave earned his knighthood from the United Kingdom’s queen by taking home a gold medal in five different Olympic Games.
His first gold came in 1984, with his last being the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. With so many medals, he is one of the greatest male rowers of all time. He was a torchbearer at the 2012 Olympic Games and was given the BBC Sports Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee will go down in history as one of the United States’ greatest ever Olympic athletes. She won three gold medals in her career, but is best remembered for her incredible achievement in the heptathlon event. Joyner-Kersee scored a total of 7,000 points at the 1986 Goodwill Games, which was a world record.
Her record still stands today, and after retiring, Joyner-Kersee started the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation to give essential support to families affected by poverty.
George Foreman put himself on the path to greatness after winning heavyweight boxing gold at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. That gold medal would put him on the radar of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, and the two faced off against each other in ‘The Rumble in the Jungle.’
While he couldn’t get the better of Ali in that contest, Foreman became a boxing legend. Since retiring, he is the face of the George Foreman Grill company and reportedly makes a total of 40 percent of the profits.
When it comes to longevity, few Olympic athletes can rival how long German kayaker Birgit Fischer stayed at the top of her sport. Fischer competed in a total of eight Olympic Games, making her both the youngest and the oldest to feature in the sports competition.
Fischer actually retired from kayaking twice, but couldn’t stay away from her sport for too long. These days Fischer works at a calmer pace and is a photographer who displays her artwork through the Art of the Olympians Foundation.
When the United States ice hockey team faced the Soviet Union in 1980, there was only meant to be one winner – the Soviets. However, Team USA fought valiantly and pulled off the most incredible upset that was dubbed ‘The Miracle on Ice.’
Mike Eruzione is one of the American heroes from that team, and since retiring from hockey, he has gone back to work with his alma mater. The hockey legend works with Boston University, and in 2002, he lit the cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics.
When it comes to the United States Women’s National soccer team, few names mean more to fans that Mia Hamm’s. Hamm was a huge part of her team’s success both at the Olympics and World Cups. She received two Olympic gold medals during her time with the USWNT and was named the Women’s World Player of the Year twice.
Since retiring from playing, Hamm’s name is synonymous with one of the biggest soccer franchises in the world, Barcelona, where she works in an ambassadorial capacity.
For many basketball fans, Michael Jordan is the undisputed greatest of all time. He won everything there was to win in basketball, including two Olympic gold medals, one in 1984 and another in 1992.
His career in the NBA is well documented, but since he retired from playing, Jordan has been developing his brand. He was the first NBA player to become a billionaire in 2014, and he is the principal owner of the NBA franchise Charlotte Hornets.
In a sport where speed and jeopardy go hand in hand, Apolo Ohno found a way to be a champion. The short track speed skater won a total of eight medals at the Winter Olympics, and was the American champion from 2001 to 2009.
Ohno was just 14 when he first became the American speed skating champion before ending his career in 2013. In 2007 he was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars, and because he was so used to winning, he took home the trophy.
Cross-country skier Bjorn Daehlie is one of Norway’s most-decorated Winter Olympic athletes with eight gold medals and four silver. After he competed at the 1992 Winter Olympics, Daehlie rose to fame in his home country, and in total, he earned 29 medals through the Olympics and World Championships.
Daelhi loves the thrill of competition and still tries to compete in the World Championships, even though his doctors suggest he shouldn’t. Besides his sporting success, Daehlie is also an accomplished fashion designer.
Venus and Serena Williams
Venus and Serena Williams have made their names as stars on the professional tennis circuit, but they really helped launch themselves into stardom at the Olympics. They competed together in doubles, winning three golds, while each also has an individual gold to her name.
Serena is, of course, one of the biggest names in tennis alongside Venus. They have been playing tennis for decades and don’t appear to be slowing down any time soon, with Serena, in particular, still a force to be reckoned with.
This French skier really made a name for himself by going downhill really fast on a pair of skis. Jean-Claude Killy competed at the 1968 Winter Olympics and took home three gold medals, making him the most accomplished French skier.
Killy was married to the late French actress Danielle Gaubert, and they had a daughter together. He also adopted Gaubert’s two children from a previous marriage. Most recently, Killy has been making headlines for his affiliation with Russia’s president.
Fans of basketball will know all about Charles Barkley in the NBA, but he is also an Olympic gold medalist with the United States. The power forward competed for his home nation in both the 1992 and 1996 Olympics, winning on both occasions.
When he wasn’t tearing it up at the Olympics, Barkley was busy being a menace in the NBA. He was the MVP in 1993 before retiring in 2000. Since then, Barkley has made a name for himself as one of the best broadcast analysts in the sport.
Sports stars have to continue getting better all the time, or else they face the prospect of being caught up by their competition. Sergey Bubka knew all about winning, and in 1988 he took home the Olympic gold in the pole vault.
The Ukranian was representing the Soviet Union when he was the Olympic champion, and his achievements in pole vaulting are impressive. Bubka broke the world record 35 times during his career, and since retiring in 2001 has become the president of the International Association of Athletics Federations.
Andre Agassi is more than just an Olympic hero, he is a tennis icon. The American tennis maestro knows what it takes to earn gold, and after multiple championships, he took first place at the 1996 Olympic Games.
Agassi had an up and down career, but the highs were always worth remembering – not only in his tennis ability but also in some of his fashion choices. In 2003, Agassi retired and is enjoying life away from competition with his former tennis star wife, Steffi Graf.
Being an Olympic level wrestler is tough enough, but going one step further and winning gold is an amazing achievement. Rulon Gardner won a gold medal at the 200 Olympics for wrestling in the heavyweight category, and he took bronze four years later.
The former wrestler has had a tough life and been through some real adventures, and he’s a motivational speaker now. He survived being punctured by an arrow as well as being separated from his friends after falling through ice on a frozen river.
Kerri Walsh Jennings
Olympic gold medals are not handed out for free, and they come with a lot of hard work and dedication. Kerri Walsh Jennings is one of the United States’ most successful beach volleyball players thanks to her three gold medals.
Jennings was best-known for the great bond she shared with her long-term volleyball partner, Misty May-Treanor. The pair competed in four Olympic Games together, from 2004 to 2016. Away from the volleyball beach, Jennings has done some modeling and appeared on the reality TV show Celebrity Wife Swap.
Although she was considered a big part of the “Fierce Five,” Aly Raisman was already on the path to Olympic glory before the 2016 Olympics.
She was one of the more experienced members of the team as she became the first American to win gold for the Individual Floor routine in 2012. Even though she was still focusing on being a part of the Olympic team for 2016, Raisman found the time to compete on talent show Dancing with the Stars between Games.
Before she was Caitlyn, she was Bruce Jenner, who is arguably one of the greatest American athletes ever. Bruce was dubbed the “All-American Hero” after winning the decathlon in 1976 and dominating what many consider to be the hardest sport at the Olympics.
Now, as Caitlyn Jenner, she is inspiring millions of people thanks to her position as one of the most famous trans people in the world. Jenner’s name is synonymous with the Kardashians, and she now has her own reality show, titled Caitlyn.
Although she is best known for her time as a UFC fighter, Ronda Rousey has actually been competing for a lot longer than people might think. She won a bronze medal in judo at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and built her mixed martial arts career from there.
After 2008, Rousey began training in all forms of combat but relied on her judo to become the UFC champion. She later transferred those skills to professional wrestling and appeared in the WWE, where she became the Women’s Champion.
It seems as though Alicia Sacramone took to gymnastics like a duck to water. She only began training when she was eight years old, and just a few short years later, she was competing. When Sacramone was 20 she represented Team USA at the Beijing Olympics and won a silver medal in the team event.
She continued to compete until 2012 and since then has become a CoverGirl spokesmodel. In her personal life, she got married to former NFL quarterback Brady Quinn, and together they have two children.
American gymnast McKayla Maroney became a worldwide sensation after she pulled a face for taking silver at the 2012 London Olympics. It wasn’t all disappointment for Maroney in 2012 though, as she did take the gold in the team all-around event in the same games.
Maroney had to cut her gymnastics career short due to injury, but she still remains involved in the sport as a commentator. The former gymnast also has plans to move into the music industry in the near future.
Tonya Harding was one of the very best ice skaters of her generation, until 1994 when she was accused of being involved in a sabotage attempt on her rival Nancy Kerrigan.
Tonya maintained her innocence, as her ex-husband was the one who planned the attack. But her skating career was over, as she still got banned from professional skating for life by the United States Figure Skating Association. Today she is mostly focused on being a mother and wife, and lives a quiet life in Washington state.