Olympic Parents Michael Phelps, Justin Gatlin Talk Balancing Parenthood and Sports: Watch


It’s not easy balancing parenthood with the quest to get on the podium.

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While some Olympians put their dreams of becoming a parent on hold while they train, others go all in, juggling raising a little one with their dreams of being the best athlete in their sport.

“It was so crazy when we first [found out fiancée Nicole Johnson was pregnant]. I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I’m having a kid, wow,’’’ Michael Phelps says, as he tries on a baby carrier for son Boomer, 2 months. “This is how I’ll be coming into the village, guys, watch out!”

Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps USOC/NBC Olympics

Some parents, like sprinter Justin Gatlin, incorporate their children into practice.

“[My son Jace is] watching me, emulating me. He comes to practice and does all my drills with me and stretches,” the recently qualified three-time Olympian says.

Distance runner Galen Rupp, who has twins Grayson and Emmie with wife Keara, credits his children with enhancing his training.

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“It’s been good for me having them because I have to be better with my schedule,” says the 2012 silver medalist in the 10,000-meter. “Before, I was very lackadaisical, sometimes I would do my runs at weird hours of the day, and now I’m much more diligent with getting up in the morning so that I can lay down and we can take a family nap together in the afternoon.”

Justin Gatlin
Justin Gatlin USOC/NBC Olympics

But it’s not easy.

“How do you juggle it? It takes a village,” says paratriathlete Melissa Stockwell, who has a 19-month-old son, Dallas, with husband Brian Tolsma. “None of us are without the team behind us.”

However, it’s worth it, according to the defending Olympic wrestling champion Jordan Burroughs, who just welcomed his second child, daughter Ora, last month. “I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I really can’t picture my life without my baby boy [Beacon] and my wife [Lauren] by my side.”

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To hear more about these Olympic parents — and many more members of Team USA — watch the video above!

The Rio Olympics begin August 5 and will be streamed live on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app. The Rio Paralympics begin on September 7 and will be streamed live on TeamUSA.org.

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