When people watch the Olympics, it often gets personal. Viewers get invested in the athletes’ journeys and personal histories as they compete and take home medals. A lot of the top athletes this year have gone through some family issues and would no doubt relate to other young Americans whose parents have divorced.
Whether it’s the divorce of their parents, being caught in the middle of a custody dispute or seeing a single parent support an entire family, here are a few family stories from some of this year’s top Olympians.
• Gabby Douglas. The 16-year-old gymnast, who took home two gold medals at this year’s games, hasn’t always had it easy. After her parents split up years ago, Douglas’ mom often made sacrifices for her daughter. While her father was not at the Olympics, he apparently did help pay for her travel and training.
• Michael Phelps. The most celebrated Olympian in history reportedly got a lot of support from his mother, who divorced his father and then raised Phelps and his two sisters on a teacher’s salary. Explaining what she did, she says simply, “I just supported my family.”
• Serena and Venus Williams. The sisters, who won the tennis doubles title this year, saw their parents divorce in 2002. Their mother notes that she continued working together with their father “for the good of [the] girls.”
• Ryan Lochte. The swimmer’s parents divorced just last year, but were there to cheer him on. He says both have lent him “unconditional support.”
Source: Huffington Post, “Olympians’ family: 6 Olympians whose parents split,” Aug. 6, 2012
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