In preparation for the 2016 Rio Olympics, PEOPLE’s latest Mom Talk episode features three mothers of former Olympic athletes and one mom who was an athlete herself. The women gathered to discuss the challenges and rewards of being a mother in the world of sports.
Rita Wieber, mother of 2012 Summer Olympics gymnastics gold medalist Jordyn Wieber, says watching her daughter compete in London was “such a proud moment.”
“It was one of the proudest moments for our whole family — seeing Jordyn being able to represent the country and her sport and make it to that level,” she says of her daughter who took gold in the team competition as part of Fierce Five. “I always say, 20 different planets have to align to make it on the Olympic team in gymnastics!”
She adds, “There’s so many girls that start out in gymnastics and only five make the team.”
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Source: Jordyn Wieber/Instagram
The 1996 Summer Olympic tennis gold medalist Lindsay Davenport — and a mother of four — says the Olympics was the one time her entire family gathered to see her play.
“My parents were so happy! It was like the biggest deal ever,” she says. “My parents didn’t come and watch me often when I was growing up, but [the Olympics] was one of the few times when my family came to Atlanta … It was the biggest thing in my whole career.”
Davenport adds, “I remember standing up there with my whole family there which has never happened again.”
The tennis star and her husband Jonathan Leach are parents to Haven Michelle, 2, Kaya, 4, Lauren, 7, and Jagger, 9.
Dale Craig and Donna Johnson, respective mothers to current water polo players heading to the 2016 Olympics Kami Craig and Ashleigh Johnson, spoke about their upcoming trip to Brazil.
Craig says her daughter was only 5 years old when she told her mom she wanted to go to the Olympics.
“It was the 1992 Olympics … she was laying on the floor, had her little feet up on the TV and she was watching TV and she said, ‘You know Mom, I’m going to the Olympics one day!’ ” she says. “And I just remembered wanting to be positive and saying you know what Kami, just keeping working hard and you can do that! ”
On the contrary, Johnson says an Olympic run was never on Ashleigh’s radar.
“It was never on our agenda at all,” she explains. “My son keeps telling me, he’s like, ‘Mommy I’m so proud that my sister is going to the Olympics!’ “
Ashleigh’s entire family will travel to Rio to see her. “Yes, we will be crying!” Johnson says of watching her daughter compete in August.
— Rose Minutaglio