Village Report | May 2024

May 1, 2024 | Jen Griffin, Vice President of Engagement

Jennifer Griffin

by Jen Griffin, Vice President of Engagement

For me, our “Go for the Gold” theme for 2024 and May’s theme of “Golden Oldies” immediately sparked the impending Summer Olympics which begin in July. My mind went immediately to the Olympics and, “whatever happened to ___?” Truly, looking for “Golden Oldies” in any field should be fairly easy – since I am one now! But I’ve always been a huge fan of the spectacle of the Olympics. I attended the Summer Olympics in Barcelona in 1992 (trip of a lifetime!) and Brian Parman worked the Summer Olympics in Atlanta in 1996 (assignment of a lifetime!). Between the two of us, we can tell some stories!

The rare combination of world class athletes and international competition breeds drama. The minute a person or team wins a gold medal, they are catapulted into the marketing stratosphere. Consider these few examples and notice where your mind wanders: Mark Spitz, Nadia Comaneci, Carl Lewis, Michael Phelps, Mary Lou Retton, and Usain Bolt to name a few. Wheeties, anyone?

No doubt their brief moment in history is firm. But where are they now? Here is what I learned:

Mark Spitz (swimmer): Ah, Mark Spitz, the poster boy of teenage girls everywhere in the 70’s! Who could forget the summer of ’72 when Spitz, with his iconic mustache and unparalleled skill, claimed a record-breaking seven gold medals at the Munich Olympics? After retiring from competitive swimming, Mark Spitz pursued a career in business and marketing. He has been involved in various ventures, including motivational speaking engagements and endorsements. Spitz remains active in the swimming community, often appearing as a commentator during major swimming events. (Somehow I thought he became a doctor, but…Google never lies!)

What about Romanian gymnast Nadia Comăneci from 1976? Well, after she married U.S. gymnast Bart Conner, Nadia has remained heavily involved in gymnastics since retiring from competition. She has coached and mentored young gymnasts, and she’s also a sought-after speaker on topics like sports, fitness, and overcoming challenges. Comăneci is also an advocate for children’s rights and education. She was only 14 when she started competing! And the list of her accomplishments will blow your mind. (Check out her Wikipedia page and you will be amazed!)

And sprinter Carl Lewis? Lewis dominated the track and field in the 80’s and 90’s.Since then he has transitioned into a career in sports administration, coaching, and motivational speaking. He has also ventured into politics, having run for public office in New Jersey. Additionally, Lewis is involved in various charitable initiatives, focusing on youth development and sports programs.

Michael Phelps holds the distinction of winning more Olympic medals than any other individual – 28 in total! He has been active in various endeavors since retiring from swimming. He has become a vocal advocate for mental health awareness and has launched his own foundation, the Michael Phelps Foundation, which promotes water safety and swimming programs for children. Phelps is also involved in broadcasting and has made appearances as a commentator during major swimming events.

And darling Mary Lou Retton from the 1988 Summer Olympics! Was there ever any cuter, more talented gymnast? I say no. Mary Lou Retton has maintained a presence in the gymnastics world through coaching and commentary. She now lives in the Houston area and has also been involved in charitable work, supporting organizations focused on children’s health and fitness. Retton has made occasional television appearances and continues to inspire others with her story of perseverance and success.

Since retiring from competitive sprinting, Usain Bolt has pursued various business ventures and philanthropic endeavors. He has invested in businesses ranging from sports apparel to restaurants and has also established the Usain Bolt Foundation, which supports education and cultural development initiatives in Jamaica. Bolt remains active in the public eye through endorsements, appearances, and occasional involvement in sports-related projects.

All equally impressive, wouldn’t you agree? These former “Golden Oldies” Olympic athletes have transitioned from their competitive careers to make significant contributions in various fields, leaving a lasting impact on the world beyond sports. Through their triumphs and tribulations, they embody the very essence of the Olympics – an international celebration of unity, perseverance, and excellence with focus on the enduring power of the human spirit.

I would be honored to be a “Golden Oldie” like any of these!

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