Team USA Olympic Profiles [a retrospective]
Since we began, some of our athletes have risen in stature and awareness and thanks to social media, many of them have been able to correspond with you directly.
Team USA has 530 athletes and probably 30 of them are well known names. Of the 30, a majority play on the men’s basketball or women’s soccer teams. You can name the rest – Michael Phelps, Allyson Felix, et al.
We couldn’t hit everybody, but we profiled 17 athletes and 12 sports.
Here’s the roster:
- Clarissa Chun, Wrestling
- Daryl Homer, Fencing
- Nick Delpopolo, Judo
- Mary Killman, Synchronized Swimming
- Joseph Diaz Jr., Boxing
- Diana Lopez, Tae Kwon Do
- Jamie Gray, Shooting
- Marti Malloy, Judo
- Sarah Groff, Triathlon
- Paige McPherson, Tae Kwon Do
- Kayla Harrison, Judo
- Nzingha Prescod, Fencing
- Sara Hendershot, Rowing
- Nick Symmonds, Track and Field
- Jake Herbert, Wrestling
- Todd Wells, Mountain Biking
- Jacob Wukie, Archery
Here’s what we learned:
TEAM USA IS GOOD – No one on this team stumbled into their slot. Each of them endured multiple challenges trials and in some cases do-or-die events. Nick Delpopolo fought in the “Hour of Power,” four consecutive judo matches against the same opponent, in a row to secure his spot. Sara Hendershot came from two boat lengths down in the final race to earn her boat’s spot on Team USA. There are no accidents here and kudos to the folks who they’ve beaten because in many countries Team USA’s B-team is the A-team.
TEAM USA IS COOL – All of these athletes are humble, approachable, and fun. And in many of our interviews, we were in stitches laughing. Because, who has the audacity to challenge synchro’s Mary Killman to a hold-your-breath contest? We do. Everyone was very generous with their time especially Sara Groff, who we kept up till midnight during the week of a race.
TEAM USA IS PASSIONATE- We asked all of the combat sports athletes to describe their routines minutes out from taking the mat before a fight. It was like flipping a switch. Jake Herbert is one scary guy on the mat and we got to watch that passion as he pretended to get psyched up (he didn’t pretend). Diana Lopez got way fired up and Paige McPherson showed us some of her kicks. Joseph Diaz even punched his computer so hard during our interview that we had to reload the feed. Thanks for taking us into that space with you.
TEAM USA GIVES BACK – We asked many athletes to give us tips on their sports, especially those like mountain biking, where there are few barriers to participate. Todd Wells willingly shared. Daryl Homer, Kayla Harrison, and Marti Malloy all had advice for kids wanting to get into their sports, and Jacob Wukie talked about how to get you kids involved in archery at a young age. The next generations of kids who want to participate in these sports will be in good hands with so much benevolence handed down.
TEAM USA IS READY – We learned about the approaches of many athletes from the holistic styling of Clarissa Chun to the methodical planning of Jamie Gray. We also got a glimpse of Nick Symmonds, who is one of Team USA’s biggest athlete advocates and a brilliant corporate mind who has prepared the business side of his career as much as he has prepared to run. From all walks of life and places, like Nzingha Prescod mom’s living room, this team is ready to dominate London.
Our project began as a “Wouldn’t it be fun if …” conversation between a couple of guys in a garage drinking beers and it turned into a wonderful cross-section of Team USA’s best performers.