Making it to the Olympics is a feat that countless athletes dream of their entire lives. After years of blood, sweat and tears, participating in the most prestigious athletic event in the world is a once-in-a-lifetime moment.
Some athletes compete one time in the Olympic Games and hang up their hats, stepping gracefully into retirement. Some, however, spend their days training to return to the competition. And others, of course, split their time between athletic passion and real-life responsibilities.
Alpine skier Ted Ligety, for example, competed in four consecutive Winter Olympic Games. But the athlete does not only dedicate time and energy to the sport; he also has a family.
“My wife and I have been together for eight-ish years, give or take now, and she has been traveling with me now for the last bunch of years, so that’s really good,” he told Us Weekly exclusively in February 2018, prior to competing in the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. “I’m traveling so much that it would be impossible to have a relationship when you’re that far away for that many years and it’s good.”
Ligety and his wife, Mia Pascoe, have also learned to balance raising a child on the road. “Having [son Jax is] a new adventure,” he noted. “My life has changed a lot in the last couple years.”
Swimmer Nathan Adrian, for his part, was forced to step away from his sport when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. “After a few tests and visits with a specialist, I unfortunately learned that I have Testicular Cancer,” he announced via Instagram in January 2019. “On the bright side, we caught it early, I have already started treatment and the prognosis is good.”
The eight-time Olympic medalist assured fans that he would fight the illness and still had his “sights fully set on Tokyo,” where the 2020 Games were set to be held.
Adrian underwent two operations, avoiding chemotherapy amid his recovery. He did not qualify for the 2020 Olympics, which were postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“As long as I have your attention and people are listening, my message is this: find your passion and pursue it with your heart, mind, and soul. No matter the outcome, it is worth it and you will be closer to the person you want to be on the other side,” he wrote via Instagram in June 2021. “Go USA!!!”
Keep scrolling to see the progress of more Olympians throughout the years!