Parents of Olympians

As the Olympics continue on in London, coverage has been focused on some sports heroes more prominently than in years previous – the mothers of the athletes in all of their screaming, gasping and whooping glory.

NBC, the exclusive primetime network broadcasting the games, has received plenty of bad press. From limiting online viewing to those with particular cable subscriptions to just flat out not showing a variety of events, they have really done one over on the games’ most devoted fans. However, many are agreeing NBC has totally redeemed itself with its incredible coverage of the sobbing parentals in the stands, anxiously viewing their sons/daughters’ performances in England.

Here are a few of our favorite examples, paying homage to moms everywhere.

Aly Raisman

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Probably the most prolific coverage of the games has been given to Aly Raisman’s parents, whose video as spectators at team final has gone viral. Lynn and Rick have received as many hits on YouTube as skate boarding dogs and singing toddlers with their hilarious facial expressions reflecting the jaw-dropping stunts and competitive action at the Olympic gymnastics events. Aly has responded with a hint of eye-rolling and polite responses to media regarding her parents’ viral video success – but there’s no doubt that her gold-medal winning performances can be partially credited to her parents’ loving support.

Michael Phelps

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American viewers first became acquainted with Debbie Phelps in prior Olympics games, as she was one of the first parents to truly receive media attention for her hooting, hollering and sobbing in the stands. Now that her son has broken historic Olympian records in men’s swimming, she can relax a bit – as was illustrated by her leaning against the spectator railing in relief. A devoted single mother who worked full time while driving Phelps to early morning swim practices growing up, Debbie continues to be a focal representation of Olympian parenthood.

Gabby Douglas

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16-year-old Gabby is the first African American woman to ever win the all-around gold in gymnastics, and her mother Natalie Hawkins could not be prouder. Their story also could not possibly be more compelling. Natalie had to make the gut-wrenching decision to send Gabby across the nation to train with a particular coach, which eventually led to not only a Gabby-shaped hole in her heart as she had to settle for a long distance mother-daughter connection, but also to her selling her own jewelry and filing for bankruptcy as well. This mom’s commitment is being reported as one of the most shining examples of committed parenting when it comes to young athletes.

Chad le Clos

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Chad le who? That is what America was saying until the South African swimmer stole a gold medal from the seemingly unstoppable Phelps. And his father Bert is just as golden when it comes to gushing publicly over his son. Watching replays, he adorably used the word “unbelievable” and blew kisses to the TV screen. How can you not love such an underdog story with a dad as excited as this one?

Jordyn Wieber

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Rita Wieber, the mother of Jordyn – who was expected to be “the one” to watch during the gymnastics events in London – has been on quite the emotional rollercoaster. First, her daughter failed to qualify for the individual finals despite being heralded as a shoo-in for the events. The images of Jordyn weeping after losing the chance for an individual gold were replayed countless times over airwaves, and Rita was not able to reach her daughter for hours after the devastating loss. However, despite her obvious undying support for Jordan in the arena, Rita should also get credit for another aspect of parenting – insisting Jordyn remain in public school and have a well-rounded life outside of gymnastics.

As the Olympics progress, we will undoubtedly see more emotional moms and dads as their children compete in the games. And honestly, that’s likely how America likes the broadcasts to go – showing real people like themselves experiencing the best moment of their children’s lives. It’s what we all hope for, and what we all can aspire to when it comes to unconditional love, commitment and sacrifice.


Written by Tamara Warta