20 Famous Olympic Champions Then And Now

These athletes have made history at the Olympic Games. But what happens after the Games? What does life hold for these ex-olympians? Where have their enormous accomplishments taken them to? Let’s find out!

1. Michael Phelps, Swimming

Michael Phelps is considered to be one of the most successful and most decorated Olympians of all time. In 2000, Phelps made his Olympic debut at the age of 15. Though he didn’t reach the podium the first time around, he later went on to win a record 28 medals, with 23 of them being gold. After his fifth Olympic appearance at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Phelps announced his retirement. Phelps now runs a swimwear company, MP, along with other business ventures.

2. Michael Jordan, Basketball

Michael Jordan, widely considered the greatest basketball player of all time, led American men’s basketball team to win two Olympic gold medals in 1984 and 1992. He is now the principal owner and chairman of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets. As of 2018, Jordan is the third-richest African-American, behind Robert F. Smith and Oprah Winfrey.

3. Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali), Boxing

Cassius Clay, better known to us as Muhammad Ali, won an Olympic light heavyweight boxing gold medal in 1960. After retiring from boxing in 1981, Ali devoted his life to humanitarian and charitable work. Sadly, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome and passed away in 2016. Ali will truly be remembered as a great Olympian, and one of the most influential voices of the century.

4. Apolo Ohno, Speed Skating

Apolo Ohno was an American short track speed skater who won 8 Winter Olympic medals. After he ended his skating career in 2013, Ohno has made various television appearances, including hosting the reality TV show, “Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge” and starring in a Syfy original movie, “Tasmanian Devils.” He also participated in Dancing With the Stars in 2007 and won.

5. Cathy Freeman, Track

Cathy Freeman is an Australian former sprinter, who specialized in the 400-meter dash. Freeman won her first gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games with a personal best of 48.63 and makes her the sixth-fastest woman of all time. She retired from athletics in 2003. In 2007, she founded the Cathy Freeman Foundation to improve educational programs in Indigenous communities.

6. McKayla Maroney, Gymnastics

McKayla Maroney won team gold and an individual silver medal on the vault at the 2012 Summer Olympics. A photo of her with a “not impressed” expression taken as she accepted the silver medal went viral on the internet. Sadly, injuries led Maroney to retire from gymnastics in 2016. Maroney has been exploring acting and has made some television appearances.

7. Carl Lewis, Track & Field

Carl Lewis won 9 Olympic gold medals in track and field between 1979 and 1997. He retired in 1997 after almost 20 years in the sport. Lewis tried to run as a Democrat for the New Jersey Senate in 2011, but didn’t meet the residency requirements. The former Olympic Champion manages a branding company, C.L.E.G., which markets and brands products and services.

8. Greg Louganis, Diving

Despite suffering a concussion during the preliminary rounds at the 1988 Summer Games, he still won gold. Greg Louganis appeared in 3 Olympic Games and took home 4 gold medals. Louganis has recently been working as a diving coach, in addition to being an activist for LGBT rights.

9. Mark Spitz, Swimming

Mark Spitz was coached by former Olympic medal winner Sherm Chavoor. He earned a total of 9 gold medals at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics and the 1972 Summer Olympics. Spitz managed to hold the record for the most gold medals at a single Olympics for nearly 36 years, until Michael Phelps won eight gold medals in 2008. After his retirement from swimming, he pursued various entrepreneurial projects with former NBA player Rick Barry.

10. Usain Bolt, Track

The Jamaican-born sprinter won 8 gold medals in 3 Olympics and is the world record holder at the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m meters relay. His achievements as a sprinter have earned him the media nickname “Lightning Bolt.” He wrapped up his unrivaled career after the 2017 World Championships. In August 2018, Bolt began training with Australian A-League football club, the Central Coast Mariners.

11. Bruce Jenner (Caitlyn Jenner), Decathlon

Bruce Jenner became a national hero after she won decathlon gold at the 1976 Olympic Games, setting a new world record in the process. Jenner subsequently established a career in television and film. In 2015, he successfully transitioned into a woman and changed his name to Caitlyn Jenner. Most recently, she has starred on reality shows like “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and “Caitlyn.”

12. Misty May-Treanor, Beach Volleyball

Misty May-Treanor was a beast at the Olympics, winning three consecutive golds for beach volleyball in 2004, 2008 and 2012. Outside of the Olympic Games, she has made minor television appearances, such as in “Dancing with the Stars,” episodes of CSI: Miami, and “The Daily Show.” In 2014, she welcomed her first child with MLB husband Matt Treanor.

13. Mary Lou Retton, Gymnastics

Mary Lou Retton became America’s sweetheart at 16 when she vaulted her way to the gold medal in gymnastics at the 1984 Summer Olympics. She attended The University of Texas at Austin after the Olympics. Now, she’s a mom of four and dedicated charity worker.

14. Michelle Kwan, Figure Skating

Michelle Kwan’s parents are immigrants from Hong Kong, and she started skating when she was five. Kwan topped out with a silver medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics. Unfortunately, due to injuries, she had to end her competitive skating career in 2005. Kwan has served as a public diplomacy advocate for the United States since 2006.

15. Kerri Strug, Gymnastics

Part of the ever famous Magnificent Seven, Kerri Strug became popular for helping her team win the gold medal by finishing her vault on an injured ankle and for being carried to the podium by her coach. After she retired, Strug attended UCLA first and later transferred to Stanford University where she obtained her master’s degree in Sociology. She is now the mother of two children and works for the US Department of Justice.

16. Shaun White, Snowboarding

Shaun White trained under Tony Hawk’s expertise and took home two Olympic gold medals for the halfpipe event in 2006 and 2010. Even after suffering a crash that resulted in 62 stitches to his face, White competed in the 2018 Winter Olympics and won his third gold medal. He is the record holder for the most X-Games gold medals and most Olympic gold medals by a snowboarder.

17. Nadia Comaneci, Gymnastics

Nadia Comaneci was the first female gymnast to score a perfect 10 in the Olympic Games and was the winner of 9 Olympic medals, 5 of which she won at age 15 in 1976 at the Montreal Olympics. Today Comaneci is married to Olympic gold medal winning gymnast Bart Conner. Together, they own the Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy, the Perfect 10 Production Company, and several sports equipment shops.

18. George Foreman, Boxing

George Foreman took up boxing as a kid and became a gold medalist in the heavyweight division at the 1968 Summer Olympics. During his boxing career, he amassed 76 wins out of 81. Outside of the sport, he is an ordained minister, author, and successful entrepreneur.

19. Mia Hamm, Soccer

One of the most famous female soccer players in America, Mia Hamm participated in three Olympic Games (1996, 2000 and 2004), and helped her team win gold twice. She currently ranks third in the history of the U.S. national team for international caps (276) and first for career assists (144). Now, Mia is a global ambassador for FC Barcelona.

20. Nastia Liukin, Gymnastics

Nastia’s parents were both champion gymnasts, and her extensive time in the gym motivated her to pursue gymnastics at age 3. She is the 2008 Olympic individual all-around champion, the 2005 and 2007 world champion on the balance beam, and the 2005 world champion on the uneven bars. Liukin has her own line of gymnastics equipment, which includes mats, bars and balance beams in her signature pink.

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