Parents of Olympic athletes have three things in common

  • Gold medal-winning gymnast Suni Li named her father as her best friend and number one supporter.
  • Parents of Olympians, as a rule, are active themselves and do not push their children to any one activity.
  • They also make significant sacrifices, such as skipping key life events to be close to their children.

When 3-time Olympic champion Suni Lee reunited with her family live on national television On Thursday, she hugged her father John tightly and won her gold medal.

John who was paralyzed from the chest down After falling down the stairs in 2019, he is not Suni’s biological father, but they have a bond that prompted Suni to adopt his last name. He built her a wooden balancer as a child, and she calls his # 1 supporter, best friend, and the reason why she does what she does.

“Thank you, I wouldn’t be here without you,” Suni said in Today.

Olympians’ parents are rarely in the spotlight, but without their influence – and often money and driver’s licenses – many athletes would never have come to Tokyo. The Insider spoke to the three parents of the Olympians to find out what they have in common.

They are active themselves and build active households.

Darren Marks, father surfer Caroline MarksHe competed in motocross, and his wife grew up as a triathlete.

They raised their six children, now 10 to 22 years old, in Florida, where surfing was a common family activity. When Caroline started horseback riding, her brothers drew her to the water at the age of 9. By age 10, she won titles on the East Coast, Darren, CEO of the company Grom Social Enterprises, said.

The Markov family.

Caroline Marks (with a bouquet) and her family.

Courtesy of the Marx family

Elaine Achterberg, mother of the pentathlete Samantha Schultz, said her daughter was skiing the day she turned 1.

“She stood in [the lift] – she said. The family also walked, hunted and swam. Akhterberg herself continued to actively participate in triathlons, participated in national swimming competitions in the Masters category and planned seven days sailing along the Dalmatian coast… “Sammy inspires me,” Achterberg said.

They don’t push their children towards goals.

In it small town vermont book New York Times sports reporter Karen Croes found that the parents of the stars didn’t push their kids to work harder or focus on their goals. This was not necessary.

“Parents who trust their kids with their athletic careers, who are happy with riding a shotgun on a journey – no matter how long it takes or wherever it takes – never have to worry about separating their ambitions from their kids’ ambitions.” Krause told the Atlantic

Darren Marks said that he and his wife have a similar philosophy to Caroline. “We were very sensitive about not being soccer moms or dads,” he said. “We are good at letting our children determine what they want to do, and then we come to support it.”

They make significant sacrifices: “You spend your life in a car.”

The specialty of Akhterberg’s daughter, pentathlon, includes outstanding achievements in fencing, swimming, equestrian sports, running and shooting. This meant a lot of travel. “You spend your life in the car,” Achterberg said, remembering how to swim meets Schultz, who left early to go to a horse riding competition.

For the Marx family, supporting Caroline’s success meant having at least a family member with her for two straight years when she traveled abroad to compete. “She couldn’t even rent a car. She couldn’t even sign anything under her name, ”said Darren.

Bryce and Donna Wettstein pose after Bryce finished 3rd at the US National Skateboarding Championships in May 2021.

Bryce Wettstein with her mom Donna, finishing 3rd at the US National Skateboarding Championships in May 2021.

Cortsey Bryce Wettstein

Donna Wettstein, mother of a 16 year old Olympic skateboarder Bryce Wettstein, told Insider that traveling with her daughter around the world because of the events meant missing key moments in life, such as saying goodbye to her sister in the hospital. She also had to sacrifice her job as a realtor as she was often out of town.

“I sacrificed everything because that’s what you do when you love someone that much,” she said. “Bryce is my best friend. We made so many friends and laughed much more than we cried. They were young only once. ”

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