8 Olympic Athletes You Will Want As A Mentor
Almost everyone watched some portion of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this summer. It’s hard not to idolize the Olympians and have dreams of winning gold yourself. Although the Olympics may be over for now, we were completely inspired by some of these champions and wanted to highlight some of the Olympic athletes who not only deserved gold in the arena, but outside as well. Out of the 558 athletes on Team USA, here are some Summer Olympians we wanted to shout out – and who we wouldn’t mind having as a mentor year round!
1. Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant is on this year’s Team USA Basketball Team. At 6’9″, Kevin is not only a big (literally) team player but an active member in his community. Kevin created the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation (KDCF) to support at-risk youth from low-income backgrounds through educational, athletic and social programs. He takes time to visit schools in his community and serves as a mentor for hundreds of children. Kevin was also nominated for the season-long 2015-2016 NBA Cares Community Assist Award. He’s definitely someone you can look up to.
2. Simone Manuel
Swimming the 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, and 4x100m freestyle, Simone Manuel is definitely a stand out athlete, but more than that, the humble 20-year-old is truly an inspiring figure. Not only did she set a world record for the 100m freestyle, tying with Canadian swimmer Penny Oleksiak, but Simone was also the first African American female swimmer to win an Olympic medal in an individual event. She hopes to bring diversity to the sport of swimming and to inspire people to conquer their fears.
3. Jack Sock
Jack Sock started playing tennis when he was eight years old. Now, 16 years later, he is a gold medalist at the Rio Olympics. Though noteworthy, it’s not his athletic accomplishment and dedication that makes him a great mentor but his sportsmanship. At the 2016 Hopman Cup, he corrected an umpire against his favor and ended up losing the match. Jack continued to play with sportsmanship into the Rio Olympics where he won gold, proving that an honorable game benefits all.
4. Katie Ledecky
You’ve probably seen Katie Ledecky all over the news for her numerous gold medal wins this summer, but her character outside the pool makes her an amazing mentor. Katie spends a good portion of her week volunteering outside of school and training. She works with Wounded Warrior Project at the Walter Reed Bethesda Naval Medical Center as well as Help2o, an organization that raises awareness and money for the construction of water wells in developing countries, on a regular basis. She also serves meals to the homeless once a month and spends every other week during her academic year collecting, assembling and repairing bicycles for developing countries.
5. Bubba Watson
Bubba Watson has been playing golf since he was six years old, so it’s no wonder why he excels at the sport. Bubba has also always been involved in philanthropy and established his own foundation in 2014 to help progress the lives of every day people in need. In addition to working with hospitals and food banks and hosting children’s golf tournaments, Bubba understands the importance of being a positive role model. Though living comfortably playing professional golf, Bubba went back to the University of Georgia in 2008 to complete his college degree and to encourage others to value education.
6. Abbey D’Agostino
Abbey D’Agostino is a stand out athlete when it comes to running the 5,000 meter track and field event, but her athletics are not what made her memorable this Olympics. Abbey was 3,000 meters into her qualifying race when she clipped another athlete’s heel. Both women fell to the ground, and Abbey immediately got up and began to pull Nikki Hamblin, the other runner, back to her feet, compelling her to finish the race. When Abbey found she was too injured to keep racing, Nikki returned her show of sportsmanship by helping Abbey cross the finish line. Olympic officials were so impressed by the two athletes that they forwarded both of them to the 5,000 meter finals. Abbey suffered a serious knee injury and was unable to compete in the finals, but both her and Nikki were commended for their sportsmanship.
7. Michael Phelps
Of course, Michael Phelps is a big name when it comes to the Olympics and has had his fair share of hardships, but did you know he started his own foundation and spends time volunteering? As someone who has gone through a lot over his career, his ‘lessons learned’ would be incredibly valuable to learn from as a mentor. Additionally, the Michael Phelps Foundation promotes the sport of swimming for children to cultivate healthy, active lifestyles. Michael also volunteers with Path Finders for Autism, Boys and Girls Club of America, and the Baltimore area school system to help motivate students to succeed in academics.
8. Ibtihaj Muhammad
Ibtihaj Muhammad won a bronze medal along with the rest of the USA Women’s Fencing Team in this year’s Olympics. More significantly, though, Ibtihaj was the first Team USA woman to compete, and win, while wearing a hijab during the Olympics. Ibtihaj speaks out against the oppression of women, particularly Muslim women, proving to people that told her she couldn’t fence because of her race, gender or religion that personal strength is much more powerful than societal ideologies. Ibtihaj hopes her journey as an athlete inspires all young girls to get more involved in sports.
You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to be a mentor. These Olympians are great mentors outside of their athletic abilities. Get involved today!