Now that the London 2012 Olympics have sadly come to an end, most athletes have made their way back to their respective nations—some will bring home some hardware, most won’t, but every one of them now holds memories that will last a lifetime.
After training for four long years, what’s in store for Olympians after two weeks of competition and glory? Many athletes will lounge around in the limelight of talk show TV segments and commercials. This will last a month or so until the “Olympic craze” is replaced by the upcoming NFL season and presidential campaign. After that, swimmers, track and field athletes, and others will compete in various international competitions—which are usually nothing in comparison to their Olympic moments—either until they decide to call it quits, or until the next Olympic Games.
Let’s take a look at a few Olympic athletes and their future ambitions:
Many Olympic athletes are on their way out, just as many are just making their debuts. Missy Franklin, the 17-year-old Olympic phenom, is a perfect example. The American swimmer is currently dealing with the dilemma of choosing between a professional career or going to college—something usually only NBA or NFL athletes are faced with. After winning more gold medals (four) than any other American woman, she told Jay Leno on The Tonight Show that she’s leaning towards going to school—a wise choice.
Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt could be deemed a savior by most track and field fans after his performance in London. After repeating gold in the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay, the 25-year-old’s future is a little unclear as he’s worried that young competition will tarnish his dominance in four years. Even so, there are possibilities Bolt could take the 400m or long jump at Rio, and you know sponsors of track and field will surely want him on the track for as long as his health permits. For now, Bolt will try to cure his back problems, attempt to sustain his annual income beyond $10 million (where it stands currently) and keep up the showmanship and antics that make him so likeable.
American swimmer Michael Phelps confirmed during the Games that London would be his last Olympics. Although some will still wonder if he is really done, Phelps’ motivation prior to the London Olympics is a testament to his decision. Phelps has just recently upgraded from his days of doing commercials for Subway by posing in a bathtub in a Louis Vuitton advertisement. The Golf Channel also announced Phelps will star in season five of The Haney Project, a reality show in which Hank Haney works with amateurs to improve their golf game. The most decorated Olympian ever wants to slow things down a bit and get out on the golf course—I don’t blame him at all.
Phelps’ counterpart, American swimmer Ryan Lochte , announced while in London that he, on the other hand, will make an appearance in Rio. Lochte will turn 32 during the 2016 Olympics and although he’s a year older than Phelps, you can’t blame him for wanting a Games in which he’s not under Phelps’ shadow. From now until then, Lochte will probably have some more terrible interviews on top of his cameo appearance on the drama series 90210, which will air on Monday, Oct. 29, at 9pm ET.
Hope Solo, goalkeeper for the gold medal winning U.S. women's soccer team, is known for her outspoken nature. She will use it to her advantage as she publicizes her new memoir, SOLO: A Memoir of Hope while training for the World Cup in 2015. U.S. soccer stars Abby Wambach, Megan Rapione, and Hope Solo herself will join the new face of the American team, Alex Morgan, in Rio during the 2016 Olympics.
These are the shining athletes of the London Games, but many competitors come home to a small celebration and will go on with their normal lives. For instance, Ukrainian long jumper Viktoriya Rybalko finished 20th overall in the qualifications of the women’s long jump with a jump of 6.29 meters, thus failing to make the final flight. In her second Olympics, and most likely her last, Rybalko will go back to coaching the women’s track field team at her alma mater, the University of Maine.
Maybe not the performance Rybalko was looking for, but she will surely be idolized by all of us who dream about competing at the Olympics some day.That’s really what London was all about: Inspiring a generation.