Olympic athletes are motivated, talented and successful. They have to be in order to be the best at their chosen sport, but what happens when it comes time to retire? Where do these driven individuals turn their attention once the competition is over? Upon researching many famous Olympians, we discovered these former athletes tend to gravitate to the same post sports careers.
Bruce JennerAfter Bruce Jenner won the decathlon at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, he graced the fronts of Wheaties boxes, became a motivational speaker, sports commentator, commercial spokesman, and actor, guest starring in The Love Boat, CHiPs, Murder She Wrote and King of the Hill. Jenner also works with several charities and, of course, he has now reached the pinnacle of American success by co-starring in his very own reality show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
Mary Lou RettonThis All Around Gold Medal winner in women’s gymnastics at the 1984 games in Los Angeles was the first American woman ever to win a gold medal in gymnastics. She also won silver medals for Team and Vault, and bronze medals for Uneven Bars and Floor Exercise. After all her Olympic successes, Retton forged a career as a motivational speaker and corporate spokesperson, and has been a commentator for various Olympic themed programs. She even took a stab at acting, appearing in the movies Scrooged and Naked Gun 33 1/3, and TV shows, Baywatch and Dream On.
Kristi YamaguchiAfter winning the gold medal for women’s figure skating at the 1992 Olympics, Kristi Yamaguchi enjoyed a long stint touring with Stars on Ice and performed in several skating televised specials. Like many of her Olympian counterparts, Yamaguchi tried her hand at acting, appearing in Everybody Loves Raymond, and The Mighty Ducks 2. She then took her competitive nature to the reality show Dancing with the Stars in 2008 where she became the second woman to win the coveted mirrored ball trophy.
Greg LouganisAn Olympic diver, Louganis won his first medal at the age of 16 (the silver) in 1976 and won two gold medals in diving for both platform and springboard events eight years later. In 1988 he became the first to win double gold medals for diving in two consecutive Olympics. After ending his impressive diving career, Louganis followed it up by posing for Playgirl; becoming an author, motivational speaker and spokesperson; and even acting in the off-Broadway play Jeffrey, the movies Mighty Ducks 2, It’s My Party, Touch Me and the recently completed, Watercolors.
Michael JohnsonSprinter Michael Johnson became the first man ever to win gold in the 200 meters and 400 meters at the 1996 Olympics. In 2000 he won the 400 meters and 4x400 relay in Sydney, Australia. Since retiring, Johnson has found success as a sports commentator, corporate motivational speaker and by developing various business ventures including a sports management company.
Dan JansenAfter several emotional appearances at the Olympics, speed skater Dan Jansen finally won the gold in the 1000 meters at the 1994 Olympics. While he did follow the familiar path of the above athletes by becoming a broadcaster and motivational speaker, he also became the skating coach for the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks.
Mitch GaylordGaylord led the Men’s American Gymnastic’s team to win the gold in 1984 and became the first American gymnast to score a perfect 10 in the Olympics. He quickly followed that up with a starring role in the forgettable, American Anthem, but later found success as a motivational speaker and as a judge on the reality show, Celebrity Circus. Breaking away slightly from his fellow acting Olympians, Gaylord used his considerable gymnastic abilities and became a stunt double for the movies Mortal Kombat and Batman Forever.
The Second ActOf course not all former Olympians become actors, reality TV stars and motivational speakers. Some leave the world of competition behind and forge new paths altogether. However, if these seven athletes are any indication, the fields they gravitate towards require the same drive and determination that made them successful in the first place, and more often than not, they aren’t far removed from the sport they dedicated their lives too.