Gabby Douglas? Missy Franklin? Michael Phelps? Forget 'em. We'd argue that some of the biggest stars of the Olympics thus far have been the athletes' parents. Okay, fine. So far these Olympics have given us the most decorated Olympic athlete in the history of the Games and crowned the first African American all around gymnastics champion ever--which rate high up there in terms of history. But forgive us for being riveted (and our hearts softened by Procter & Gamble's "Thank You Mom" campaign) by the Olympic parents this year. From the Raismans' ulcer-inducing commentary to the can't resist charm of Bert le Clos, here are our favorite parents (and their stories) from the first week of the Olympics:
Best Pair: Rick and Lynn Raisman
Child: Aly Raisman, Team Captain of the gold medal-winning U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team, Olympic Gold Medalist on the Floor Exercise, Olympic Bronze Medalist on the Balance Beam
Why? Rick and Lynn are the breakout stars of this Olympic games, thanks to this made-for-Kristen Wiig viral video of them watching Aly compete on the uneven bars (Raisman's weakest event) :
But even before all that wincing and grimacing turned them into America's greatest Olympic heroes, the Raismans, who hail from Needham, Massachusetts have been behind their daughter every step of the way. "It's exciting, it's nerve-racking, anytime you watch your kids doing something you want good things for them," Lynn explained to NESN.com about Aly's long journey to qualify for the Olympics. "We know how long and how hard she's worked, literally everyday for the past 15 years," Rick added in an interview with The Today Show. And in response to their viral fame (the video was picked up by Gawker, The Daily Beast, and Buzzfeed): "I'm a little horrified right now," Rick said after watching the video during an interview with USA Today. And of course, their New England accents make them even more adorable.
Runners up: The Franklins (The cheer-happy rookies), The Dumaises (Who have watched all four of son Troy's Olympic appearances); The Grevers (Who might take home the award for the most adorable picture of the Games)
Best Mom: Damaris Orozco
Child: American Gymnast John Orozco
Why? Even though she drove her son an hour each way from the Bronx to Chappaqua, New York, she still too nervous watch him compete. And it's freaking adorable:
When the 19-year-old Orozco made the Olympic team, he was also the youngest member. "I just cry when I hear things like that because I remember the little boy who said ‘I want to do this,’” Damaris Orozco told the New York Daily News when John was selected. Orozco didn't come home with a medal, but in four years we might be seeing John compete in Rio again as his coach believes he'll be at his peak by then. And that means more Damaris not watching!
Runners up: Rita Wieber (mother of Jordyn, the reigning world champion who just missed the Olympics' All Around competition); Paula Deen doppelgänger and mother of the human merman, Debbie Phelps; Karen Seebohm (daughter Emily came in a heart-breaking second in the 100m backstroke).
Best Dad: Bert le Clos
Child: Chad le Clos, the South African swimmer who denied Phelps a gold medal in the 200m butterfly--that medal ended up being number 19 for Phelps and tying the all-time record, and would've been sweeter if it it were gold
Why? It's not easy rooting for the guy who potentially ruined a storybook ending (Phelps later claimed gold in the relay). But with a dad like Bert, it's easy to forgive and forget. Burt has been a viral star thanks to this BBC interview:
There's something about the way he says, "unbelievable." (And yes, his complete lack of awareness of being on live television helps, too.)
Runners up: Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Timothy Douglas: He was stationed in Afghanistan when his daughter Gabby (an Atlantic Wire favorite) won the gold medal in the team finals and all around competitions; Yin Alvarez, über-exuberant stepfather and coach to bronze medal-winning male gymnast Danell Leyva
Best Story: Natalie Hawkins
Child: Gabby Douglas, 2012 Olympic All-Around Champion
The Story: Gymnastics, in America, is a rich person's sport. And for Hawkins and Douglas, sending Gabby across the country to train with coach Liang Chow wasn't easy emotionally or financially. The Associated Press reported Hawkins sold her own jewelry to make it happen. And earlier this year, The AP adds, Hawkins filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. "It's my story, it's part of me. I'm not even embarrassed about it," Hawkins was quoted as saying. "It shows that even though I didn't like to have to do it, I'm glad there was something there for me to be able to protect my home." The happy ending? Her daughter went on to win gymnastics's most coveted title, and could reap millions of dollars in endorsements.
Saddest Story: Ileana "Ike" Lochte
Child: Ryan Lochte, gold-medal swimming dynamo and as Jezebel describes him: America's Sexiest Douchebag
The Story: This was supposed to be a torch-passing year/ the year we were all supposed to fall in love with
Jason Segel's sexier twin Ryan Lochte. Unfortunately for Ike, she's had to, in an embarrassing fashion, defend her son against charges of being a fratty jerk by denying that he was a one-night-stand type of guy. And now there are reports that while her son was sporting a $25,000 diamond-encrusted grill for his endorsement-winning smile, the family home in Florida was facing foreclosure. Ugh. As for Lochte, there was speculation that he would be better (win more golds) than Phelps these games, but that didn't happen either.
Photos of Orozco via NBC; Hawkins via AP; Photos of Lochte via NBC Miami
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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