The world’s strongest, fastest, and most athletic legends that are known today had trained for most of their lives to become the best in their league. With early starts, late nights, and constantly pushing themselves, all their work amounted to a single event – the Olympics. But what happens after the awards are given out and the judges give their final scores?
In hopes of making their home country proud, every four years, the greatest athletes from all over the world compete to be known as the best. But their fame and glory are only recognized for a moment in time. Here at Popular Everything, we are diving in to find out what these former famous jocks have been up to since their glory days.
Aly Raisman Went From Flipping on the Mat To Flipping Pages in Her New Book
From the time Aly Raisman could walk, her mother knew she was destined to be an athlete. Starting in “Mommy and Me” classes to then taking the sport seriously and competing at the elite level, Aly Raisman was following her mother’s footsteps in becoming a gymnast. By flipping her way through her childhood and teenage years, Aly’s hard work finally paid off when she made the U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastic team in 2012.
After Aly became a vital member of the “Fierce Five” and helped bring home a gold medal for her team, her name was far from forgotten. Not only did Aly compete on a season of Dancing with the Stars, but she’s also recently written her own book, Fierce: How Competing For Myself Changed Everything. Being that she’s only 26 years old, this olympian is far from being known as a “has-been.”
Justin Gatlin May Finally Be Retiring
Raised in the small southern city of Pensacola, Florida, was a track star in the making. Justin Gatlin didn’t just walk anywhere; he ran. Whether he was jumping over fire hydrants on the sidewalk or zooming his way around the school, Justin found his need for speed at an early age and couldn’t get enough of it. After becoming a stand-out high school runner and college athlete, this runner made it to the Olympics – three different times.
Being in such great physical shape and perfecting his craft, you would think this olympian would be running forever, especially since he’s got eight medals under his belt. However, the 2021 Olympics may be the last time Justin laces up and hits the track. Before the games were postponed, Justin was thinking about calling it quits, but with the delay and everything that has happened over the past year, he realized his time to run isn’t done.
Dara Torres Is as Busy as Ever Since Her Olympic Training Days Have Ended
It only took 28 years for Dara Torres to get her life back, or better yet, to start it. With 12 medals, countless surgeries, and two retirements, she finally put an end to her Olympic swimming career in 2012. And if this information isn’t enough to make your jaw drop, she also became the oldest swimmer ever to compete at the Olympics at the age of 41. You would think she would be relaxing and enjoying her retirement, right? Wrong.
Even though her Olympic days are done, Dara has been anything but idle. Aside from being known as an Olympic medalist, she’s also labeled with titles such as author, motivational speaker, and certified bar method instructor. Most recently, she’s partnered with a CBD product company to be their Chief Lifestyle and Wellness Officer. It looks like Dara’s talents can’t be limited to just the pool.
Michael Phelps Has Been Focusing on His Family
Known as the most decorated athlete in Olympic history, Michael Phelps will forever be a legend. Securing 22 medals during his swimming career, Phelps is known internationally for his Olympic achievements. The talent he showed in the pool will forever be tied to his name, but these days Michael has put his athleticism in the past to focus on a different kind of future for himself.
Often times we forget that Olympians are more than just the sport they train for. Michael Phelps is a reminder of just that. From the moment you open his Instagram account, he doesn’t even claim the Olympic medalist title but rather the roles of husband and father. Additionally, he is working as a mental health advocate and is a board member on Medibio, a company focused on diagnosing mental health disorders.
Greg Louganis Became an Activist
Diving was so much more than an Olympic sport for Greg Louganis; it was an art form. Greg was known for flying through the air with his unparalleled grace before making waves into the pool below him. Taking home four gold medals in total, he is most famously known for the medal he won after cracking his head open during the preliminary rounds in 1988. Since his stitches, Greg continues to make waves outside of the pool.
In 1994, Greg Louganis proudly announced his homosexuality, making him the first high-profile athlete to come out. Since his speedo has been retired, Greg has become an advocate for the LGBTI community and an HIV activist since his diagnosis. Whenever someone describes him as the greatest male diver of all time, he says, “Been there, done that. Whenever I hear that, I think, ‘OK, but now what are you going to do with your life?'”
Gabby Douglas Is a Life-Size Barbie Doll and Role Model
2012 was the defining year for Gabby Douglas’ gymnastics life. Not only did she make the women’s gymnastic Olympic team, but in one single year, she went from being the third-best athlete on her team to becoming the best in the world. Breaking barriers, Gabby became the first African-American to win the women’s all-around title. And she was the first-ever American to pair this title with a gold medal for her team.
Becoming an icon at such a young age has helped set the stage for the rest of Gabby Douglas’ life. While her competition days may be done, Gabby’s work has only just begun. Gabby is the author of two New York Times best-selling books in addition to having the Lifetime Network air a movie on her life, The Gabby Douglas Story. And now, she’s officially a role model in reality and in the play world, as a Barbie doll was made in her honor.
Mark Spitz Became the Ultimate Businessman
Becoming a household name like Mark Spitz is easy when you win seven gold medals at the same Olympic game. Raking in a total of 11 medals from competing in two different Olympic years was enough to have Spitz literally and figuratively throw in his towel for swimming.
Following his retirement, Spitz played his hand at various business ventures. With a legendary name and history, he dove into motivational speaking, as well as stepping into the real estate industry. Not able to fully give up his athletic past, he even tried creating swimming-pool designs. These days, Spitz talks about s living with atrial fibrillation and how he even as a former athlete, his health has still been affected.
Simone Biles Is Thoroughly Enjoying Her 20 Somethings Before Her Last Olympic Season
Standing not so tall at a whopping four feet, eight inches – Simone Biles may be tiny but has quite some power within her and behind her name. Biles has racked up some impressive titles along with earning four gold medals. Oh, and she only casually revolutionized the sport of women’s gymnastics by having four moves named after her. And this was all done before she even graduated from her teenage years.
What may be her final rendezvous, Biles says the (potential) 2021 Olympics may be her last season. Until then, Biles has been spending some Instagram worthy quality time with her NFL boyfriend Justin Owens. She also might be the only 23-year-old woman who is not financially struggling this year and bought her dream home in Houston, Texas. Which, of course, is only a short drive from her family’s gym.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee Created a Safe Place for Children in St. Louis
Dubbed as the greatest woman athlete of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated, Jackie Joyner-Kersee has been sealed in the book of Olympic history. Winning more Olympic medals than any other American woman in Track and Field, Jackie’s Olympic jewelry collection includes three gold, one silver, and two bronze medals. Her running debut in the 80s and 90s Olympics would also crown her as the heptathlon world-record holder.
While her sneakers may be tucked away in her closet, Jackie is far from running out of fumes since her retirement. With a passion and great love for children, Jackie created the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation to help children in need succeed in athletics, academics, and leadership. Her own youth facility is a place of refuge children can seek for a safe place to play and learn and sits in her childhood neighborhood.
Shannon Miller Kicked Ovarian Cancer’s Butt
The 1990s showcased some of the best Olympic athletes known today and Shannon Miller is at the top of that list. Becoming a part of the iconic Magnificent Seven Squad, Shannon proved herself to be worthy enough on the women’s gymnastic team by obtaining seven medals during her career – which also happened to be an American record.
While her time as a gymnast was impeccable, her accomplishments are more notable since her leotard wearing days. Aside from being a mother, author, and health and fitness advocate, she is a survivor. When Shannon was 33 years old she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Shannon credits most of her strength in her battle with cancer to maintaining her mental state which she developed as an athlete.
Michelle Kwan Has Immersed Herself in the World of Politics
Before she became Queer Eye Jonathan Van Ness’s role model, Michelle Kwan earned her reputation as one of the most decorated figure skaters. With two Olympic medals, being a five-time world champion, and a nine-time U.S. champion, Kwan skated her way to the top!
For being so well-known as a figure skater, to Michelle, this is just another one of her hobbies in addition to cooking and doing yoga. What no one expected was for Michelle to find a new love in the early 2000s – politics. In 2006 she had been made a U.S. Public Diplomacy Ambassador by US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. Most recently, she served as the Senior Advisor for President Joe Biden’s Inaugural Committee.
Mary Lou Retton Was Featured on Dancing with the Stars
If we’re talking about the most influential U.S. gymnast in history, the conversation begins and ends with Mary Lou Retton. Her famous perfect-10 vault at the 1984 Los Angeles Games guaranteed America’s first individual all-around title and ignited unusual interest in the sport.
After leaping on the main floor at the Olympics, Mary Lou’s athleticism didn’t stop once her gymnastic career did. Dancing all the way into ninth place, Mary Lou was cast in the 27th season of Dancing with the Stars. With some coaching and lots of practice with her partner Sasha Farber, her gymnastics background is what came in handy in helping them get so far through the show!
Bruce Jenner Transitioned Into Caitlyn Jenner
In 1976, Bruce Jenner, who is now known as Caitlyn, amazed everyone by breaking the world record in the Olympics’ decathlon. Portrayed as the ultimate “macho man,” Caitlyn had accumulated thousands of suiters who had followed along during her Olympic journey. With such a following and natural talent, you would think that Caitlyn would have strived for more than just one gold medal and competing in only two Olympic games…
Following her retirement, no one would have known that Caitlyn was living a double life from the moment the cameras laid eyes on her. From being an Olympic hero to marrying the iconic momager Kris Jenner, everything the world thought they knew about then Bruce Jenner was a lie. Caitlyn had suffered tremendous gender dysphoria and even felt trapped in the body of Bruce when she won the decathlon all those years ago.
Bob Beamon Became a Beacon of Light for the Youth at Risk
One large hop for Bob Beamon became one massive leap in the world of the long jump at the 1968 Olympics. Breaking the world record by an astonishing two feet, Beamon had literally flown into a gravity-defying performance. Little did he know that long jumpers to come would strive to be Beamon-esque – to resemble the excellence Bob had achieved.
While this may have been his only claim to fame as an Olympian, it was enough for him, as his record stood for a solid 23 years. To this day, Bob is still very involved in the Olympic movement but has spent most of his time and money donating to at-risk youth. These days, he is doing motivational speaking for his own program, The Champion in You.
Kerri Walsh Jennings Has Become a Part Time Influencer
Kerri Walsh Jennings basically amplified beach volleyball from being a sandy “B-list” sport to the main event with her athletic dominance and movie star looks. Her talent was incomparable; for example, she never lost a match within her three Olympiads. And three must be her lucky number since that’s exactly how many gold medals this blondie was able to bag.
In hopes of competing in the upcoming (and her final) Olympic games, Kerri has managed to make a pretty good living from just being somewhat of a social media influencer. By posting pictures for companies like Sunsweet Growers Inc., KT Tape, and Platform1440 on her Instagram account, she’s not only gaining more of a fan base but making an income at the same time.
Shaun White Created His Own Festival
His luscious ginger locks aren’t the only thing that makes Shaun White memorable. Yes, it’s true, his good looks are also paired with outstanding talent – how else would he get the nickname the Flying Tomato? With three Olympic medals under his belt, he holds the record for the most Olympic gold medals a snowboarder has ever obtained.
Aside from hitting the slopes on a professional basis, Shaun has changed more than his hairstyle. While we’re heartbroken that he’s a short-haired blondie now, we’re so excited that Shaun has followed his other passions to create something epic. Combining his loves of music, snowboarding, and skateboarding, Shaun created Air and Style, a festival combining good music and athleticism that’s been hosted in Los Angeles and Beijing.
Janet Evans Is a Brand Ambassador for a Restaurant Chain
Recognized as the best female distance swimmer in history, Janet Evans dominated the Olympic pool between the late 80s and early 90s. Wowing crowds with her trademark windmill stroke, Evans to this day is noted for remarkable style and skill.
As someone who has always paid attention to what she consumes, Evans has taken her value in fitness and health and applied it to her new career. Serving as an ambassador for LYFE Kitchen, Evans is able to promote healthy eating habits and foods by representing this restaurant chain. LYFE stands for “Love Your Food Everyday,” a mission Evans is set on making a staple in every person’s life.
Edwin Moses Created a Content Generated Brand
From the late 70s to the 80s, Edwin Moses outshined any other runner in any other event in any other time period. With victories in 122 consecutive races, Moses became a running legend for being the only American track and field athlete to win an Olympic title on both ends of the 1980 U.S. boycott.
While his biggest dream is to wake up every day and hit the track, Moses’ life looks a little different these days. Still very involved in the Olympics world, Moses now does quite a bit of motivational and public speaking. His latest venture is called Icon 2 Icon; a content generated brand he designed to help leverage himself and share his knowledge in fields such as diversity and inclusion, governance, and executive leadership.
Mia Hamm Puts Being a Family Woman Above Everything Else
Scoring goals and winning trophies are what most people counted on Mia Hamm to do in her glory days. As the most influential soccer player of the 90s, it’s no surprise that this idol made her way to the women’s football team in the Olympics and secured two gold medals and one silver medal.
After 17 years of soccer, Mia finally retired from the sport. Today, she still has an active presence in the soccer community. But nothing is more important to Mia these days than being the best mother and wife she can be. Married to her beloved husband of 17 years (who is also a retired Boston Red Sox shortstop), they spend their days in sunny Southern California raising their three children.
Shawn Johnson Became Mrs. Shawn Johnson East
By achieving some of the highest successes in the world of gymnastics, Shawn Johnson is among the most accomplished gymnasts in U.S. history. Receiving countless medals in the early 2000s, both at the Olympics and international competitions, she was quite the showstopper once she hit the balance beam. Earning herself a gold medal and several silver medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympic games, all of her hard work had finally paid off.
Like most major athletes and Olympians, Shawn went on to write a New York Times best-selling book and won the 8th season of Dancing with the Stars. But aside from her additional spotlights, her most treasured accomplishment is becoming a Mrs. and a mommy. Married to NFL player Andrew East, it looks like the two of them are raising some potentially successful athletes in the East household.
Lindsey Vonn Is in the Process of Creating Her Empire
From the time she was a teenager, Lindsey Vonn not only trained but wanted nothing more than to be the best skier in the world. Starting her first significant competition at the age of 16, little did she know just how far her talents would take her. Upon her retirement in 2019, she had 82 wins under her belt, three of them being Olympic medals.
Although she left at the top of her game, Lindsey knew exactly what she was doing by calling it quits in the alpine skiing realm. As an athlete, she knew her physical talent would only take her so far and decided to take a more active approach to invest in her future. Today, Lindsey has her own cosmetic products, activewear clothing line, and cemented relationships with sponsors like Under Armour.
Dominique Dawes Opened Her Own Gymnastics Academy
Making a name for yourself in the world of gymnastics is no easy task. For Dominique Dawes, her talent outshined the rest when she became the first African-American to make a U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics team. As one of the sport’s most popular figures, she is also one of the few female gymnasts to have competed in three Olympiads. Raking in four Olympic medals, Dominique remains an inspiration to young gymnasts everywhere.
But becoming a gymnastics icon was not enough for Dominque. She herself may have retired as an athlete, but there was no way she was going to say goodbye to her first love forever. Today, Dominique is the proud owner of the Dominique Dawes Gymnastics Academy. Known as an inspiration herself, her academy’s slogan is to aspire to inspire every child that walks through her doors.
Matt Biondi Founded the International Swimmer’s Alliance
He’s no merman but certainly swam like one during his younger years. Olympic medalist Matt Biondi was the second swimmer ever to win seven medals at just one Olympiad. In total, he brought home a whopping 11 medals during his swimming days, with eight of them being gold. To top it off, he also broke the world record in the 50-meter freestyle at the 1988 Seoul Games.
Post-retirement, Biondi threw himself into teaching and not in the swimming community. But all of that changed in 2020 when Biondi decided to create the International Swimmer’s Alliance, leaving his 17-year teaching career in the past. The organization strives to achieve “Fair Play, Fair Pay” by advocating for swimmers to be compensated fairly for all of their training and successes.
Usain Bolt Is a Family Man and Aspiring Artist
Regarded as the fastest man on the planet, Usain Bolt has yet to be beaten. He may have retired from his professional running career in 2018, but still, the world has yet to see a talent that can break the world records that Usain has set. From 2008 to 2016, Bolt bagged gold medals at each of the three Olympic games he participated in – that’s eight gold medals for those that are keeping count.
Known as an international superstar, his downtime since he’s retired has been dreamy. More in love than ever, Usain and his long-time girlfriend Kasi recently welcomed their precious baby girl, Olympia, into the world in May of 2020. When he’s not busy being a doting father, Usain has recently tried his hand at the music industry. At the beginning of 2021, Usain Bolt released his new music video and single called Living the Dream.
Birgit Fischer-Smith Opened Her Own Canoeing Company
Over the course of six Olympics, Birgit Fischer-Smith rowed her way well into history. At the ripe age of 18, Birgit staked her claim as the best in her sport by first winning the K-1 500 meter race at the Olympics held in Moscow in 1980. From then on out, Birgit continued to make herself a household name in the world of rowing by collecting a total of eight gold medals in her Olympic career.
Since her competition days, she has focused on her company KanuFisch, promoting canoeing and kayaking excursions in Bornholm. Feeling nostalgic in a 2019 interview, she left wise words for the future Olympians by saying, “Never forget your life outside of paddling. Do whatever you feel like doing. Do not just listen to the coach but always listen to yourself. Think about your training. Love yourself and take good care of yourself.”
Miss Misty May Married Mr. Treanor and Went From Volleyball Star To Baseball Wife
Misty May, now Misty May-Treanor, started as a college volleyball star and then transitioned into having one of the best beach volleyball careers of all time. Formerly partnered with another legendary volleyball idol, Kerri Walsh Jennings, the pair took the Olympics by storm by winning three straight Olympic gold medals. While Kerri continued to pursue volleyball stardom, that just wasn’t the plan for Misty May.
After winning her first gold medal in 2004, that wasn’t the only prize Misty received that year. Yes, the same year she took home the gold, she also took home a husband – a major league baseball hubby at that. For the past 16 years, Misty has been married to her husband, Matt Treanor, who together raise their three children. When asked if Misty would ever return to the sport, she made it very clear that her family comes first.
Carl Lewis Uses His Fame To Give Back To Those in Need
Earning international respect for his athletic successes, Carl Lewis gained a place in history as one of the greatest athletes of all time. After attending four Olympic Games, and winning nine Olympic gold medals, he set the tone for the future of track and field. These accomplishments from his Olympic glory earned him titles such as “Olympian of the Century” by Sports Illustrated.
Using his international celebrity status for good, Carl Lewis has become somewhat of a philanthropist since his running days. By founding The Carl Lewis Foundation, this serves as an umbrella for the various charities he supports, including Ronald McDonald House Charities, Best Buddies, and the Wendy Marx Foundation. Besides being a philanthropist, Carl is also a United Nations Ambassador for the Food and Agricultural Organization.
Nastia Liukin Has Found a Passion for Living Her Life To the Fullest
As a five-time Olympic medalist, Nastia Liukin became a household name and icon in the gymnastics community. Following in the legends that came before her, Nastia is known for receiving five medals at one Olympic game – a record that only two other female gymnasts have accomplished. Her grace, flexibility, and charm on and off the mat made it easy for fans from all over the world to aspire to be just like her.
After falling out of love with gymnastics and in love with life, Nastia found a passion, well, for just about everything. Whether it’s exercise classes, healthy eating habits, or just doing things that make her feel good, Nadia is making up for time lost while she was training all those years in the gym. From one look at her Instagram page, it’s easy to see that she truly is living her best life.
Nadia Comaneci’s Life Still Revolves Around Gymnastics
When you hear the name Nadia Comaneci, the first thing people think of is the word flawless. Her 10.0 score on the uneven parallel bars in the 1976 Olympic Games gave hope and the possibility that perfection can actually be achieved. Making a name for herself in history, she became known as the youngest all-around Olympic gold medallist ever.
After achieving such greatness, she couldn’t say goodbye to her beloved sport. Since her retirement, Nadia has opened a gym both in Romania and in Norman, Oklahoma, where she trains over 1,000 students. Additionally, she co-published the International Gymnast magazine and is heavily involved in the Special Olympics. It’s easy to say that when you love something, you’ll never work a day in your life.
Ryan Lochte Became a Swim Ambassador
Ryan Lochte has become an incomparable figure, both in the swimming community and the Olympic world. As a 12 time Olympic medallist, it’s no surprise that he holds the current world record for the 200 individual medley. With his good looks and great talent, Ryan has gained his pop culture status both in and outside the pool.
While doing laps in the pool is something he does in his free time, Ryan Lochte is still very much involved within the swimmer’s circle. In fact, he serves as an international swim ambassador for the Spire Institute. This establishment helps cultivate athletes to reach their peak potential to excel academically, athletically, and to master life’s necessary personal skills.
Larisa Latynina Still Loves Being a Global Star Years After Her Spotlight Debut
Before Michael Phelps made history with the number of medals he had earned, there was Larisa Latynina. Competing in the gymnastics realm and not swimming, Larisa was the record holder for the most individual medals won at the Olympics. With her passion for performing and constant pursuit to be the best she can be, Larisa became an Olympic and gymnastic household name.
Now in her late 80s, Larisa is still as vibrant and energetic as she was during her glory days. With various speaking engagements, traveling, and still providing advice to hopeful athletes, Larisa loves basking in her fame even in her old age. Her success was something she worked so hard for, and to still be recognized for it brings her tremendous joy.
Floyd Mayweather Has Become a Fashionista
Floyd Mayweather is recognized as one of the best boxers of all time, so it’s only natural that the best of the best compete in the Olympics, as Floyd did. In 1996, Mayweather took home a bronze medal for boxing in the featherweight category. After that, his career only continued to take flight.
After suffering countless injuries along the way to gaining fame in his fighting career, 2017 would be the last time he stepped into the ring. Taking a less painful career change, Floyd found his love for fashion – and it’s apparent to see in almost any picture of him outside of the boxing ring. The Money Team is Floyd’s very own clothing brand suitable for men, women, and children.
Lisa Leslie Has Found Her Niche in More Than One Industry
Aside from being drop-dead gorgeous, Lisa Leslie is better known for her incredible skills on the basketball court. As the face of the WNBA, it was no question if she would be competing in the Olympics during the height of her career – obviously, and with ease, she made the U.S. team. Bringing home four gold medals for good ole America, Leslie’s fame as one of the best female basketball players of all time was solidified with these wins.
While her jersey is no longer a part of her daily uniform, Lisa has explored many career paths and, of course, has been successful at all of her ventures. From being the co-host on We Need 2 Talk, to getting her real estate license and selling luxury homes, to being an active public speaker, Lisa Leslie has been far from bored since dribbling down the courts. Knowing her, we’re eager to see what she decides to do next.
Natalie Coughlin Opened a Winery
Swimming her way to the top, Natalie Coughlin became one of the best female Olympic swimmers to date. Being a 12-time Olympic medallist is just one casual reference to add to her resume of swimming successes. Of all the Olympic games she competed in, 2008 was her trademark year where she won six medals in one game.
Drying off outside of the pool, Natalie has made quite a splash within Napa Valley. Since her retirement, Natalie became the co-founder of Gaderian Wines – a boutique winery in the heart of wine country. Now well within her fourth year of harvesting and producing, Natalie will tell you she loves the physical element of actually diving in and getting your hands dirty in the business.