2021 Olympics

Great Britain's Derek Redmond limps to the finish line, helped by his dad Jim, after tearing his ham...
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10 Moments Where Olympic Parents Proved They Were Their Babies’ #1 Fans

From victory to heartbreak, these parents were there.

Watching the Olympics is amazing, but watching Olympic parents go absolutely wild in the stands might be even better. No man is an island (no woman or anyone else, either), and that includes the most dominant Olympic competitors. While their feats of strength and athleticism are a credit to their determination and abilities, few will get to the games without a strong support system, and that often means the most loving, encouraging, and intense sports parents you’ve ever seen.

From hilarious reactions to aggressive cheering to bringing on an A+ sign game, Olympic parents are a source of entertainment and inspiration. After all, we can't blame them for their enthusiasm! Getting to the Olympics means years of driving your kid to and from practice, meets, competitions, and, considering how tough sports at that level are on the body, doctor's appointments. And considering the average Olympian is only in their mid-20s (some of them young teens!) it's reasonable to think that many of these world-class athletes might still live with mom and dad!

So here are some of our very favorite Olympic parents moments. Prepare yourself with tissues because if you're anything like us, you're going to tear up...

Derek Redmond’s Dad, Jim, Helping Him Limp Across The Finish Line

Derek Redmond was determined to prove himself as a champion at the Barcelona Olympics. Injury had robbed the world-class runner of being able to compete in Seoul four years earlier. In 1992, after helping Great Britain’s relay team to victory in the World Championships a year earlier, Redmond was seen as a front-runner (no pun intended) in the 400-meter. But approximately 150 meters in, Redmond halted abruptly before crumbling to his knees. He had torn his hamstring. Nevertheless, he was determined to finish the race, limping long after the penultimate runner had crossed the finish line.

Then, from the stands came his father, Jim. “All I can remember after that is telling the coach, Tony Hadley, to look after my camera,” Jim told The Guardian in 2011. “The next thing I knew, I was on the track.” Jim told his son to stop, not wanting him to further injure himself, but when Derek refused, he said “Well then, we’re going to finish this together.”

In a 2012 article for The Daily Mail, Derek recalled, “[Jim] managed to get me to stop trying to run and just walk and he kept repeating, ‘You’re a champion, you’ve got nothing to prove.’”

The love and comfort Jim Redmond showed his weeping son still pulls at our heartstrings almost 30 years later.

Maame Biney’s Dad, Kweku, Bringing The Dad Jokes

Maame Biney, the first Black woman ever to qualify for the U.S. speed-skating team at just 17 years old is phenomenon. Raised by her single father, Kweku, the pair left their native Ghana when she was a child, and she credits him with supporting her skating career.

During the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, Kweku came prepared with signs loaded with dad jokes, including “Kick Some Hiney, Biney!” and one with the name “Biney” spelled out with elements from the Perodic Table with “Element of Speed” written beneath it.

So dorky. So pure.

Aly Raisman’s Parents, Lynn and Rick, Watching Her On The Uneven Bars

At the 2012 Olympics in London, American gymnast Aly Raisman was competing on the uneven bars, considering the gymnast’s “weakest” event. But her parents, Lynn and Rick, were getting a workout of their own as they engaged in what the HuffPost called “synchronized squirming.” The pair writhed in their seats, looking anxious, muttering encouragement and spontaneously and sort of aggressively shouting shouting “Stick it!”

She did, and moved on to the all-around final.

In an interview with USA Today, the pair were treated to a viewing of their reactions, which they took in good humor. “I’m a little horrified right now,” Rick said. “Oh my gosh.” Lynn said she thought it was funny. If they were embarrassed, it didn’t stop them from a repeat performance at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Zara Tindall Getting An Olympic Medal From Her Mother, Fellow Olympian Princess Anne

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In 2012, in her hometown, Zara Tindall, granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth, won an Olympic silver medal along with the rest of Great Britain’s Equestrian team. It’s an honor in and of itself, and also a special family milestone: her mother, Princess Anne, was the first member of the Royal family to compete in the Olympic games in 1976.

But it was a truly sweet moment to see her mother actually place the Olympic medal around her daughter’s neck.

Chloe Kim’s Dad, Jong Jin, And His Adorable Hand-Made Sign

At the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, Chloe Kim came in a snowboarding sensation. At just 17 years old, she became the youngest woman to ever win gold at the Olympics in the halfpipe. But as she won, her dad joined her in capturing the hearts of sports fans with a handmade sign that read “Go Chloe!” with a heart next to it.

In a press conference, she credited her father for helping her succeed. “My dad has definitely sacrificed a lot for me and I don’t know if I could do it, if I was in his shoes,” she said. Jong Jin left Korea in 1982 with $800 to his name. Chloe was born in 2000, and when he realized her passion for snowboarding, he gave up his job to help support her. “We — an immigrant like me — we always say, ‘the American dream,’” Jong Jin told Hoda Kotb, before saying that Chloe is his American dream.

Like the snow under Chloe’s snowboard, we’re melting just a little...

Michael Phelps’ Mom, Deborah, Getting Overly Excited During Race

At the 2012 Olympics in London, Deborah Phelps, who has always been Michael’s biggest fan, was cheering him on as only a mama could (the clutching of the chest while being steadied by her daughter is a favorite mom move in our book). When she thought he won, she appeared absolutely euphoric, lifting her arms in victory... only to be informed, no, Phelps actually took silver, losing to South Africa’s Chad Lle Clos. Though disappointed, she graciously applauded the winner.

Which makes sense: Phelps literally has 23 Olympic Gold medals to comfort him at home. If you think about it, a Silver medal is more special because he only has 3 of those!

Chad le Clos’ Dad, Bert, Unable To Stop Fawning Over His Beautiful Boy

Speaking of that famous race, let’s talk about Chad le Clos’ and his dad, Bert, whose euphoria lingered long after his son’s gold medal race was over. In an interview with the BBC’s Clare Balding, Chad couldn’t contain his joy. “Un-Be-Lievable!” he said over and over, with tears in his eyes. “I’ve never been so happy in my life.”

When Balding pointed out his son as he walked past, a gold medal around his neck, the gushing continued. “Look at him!” he said “And he’s beautiful! Look at this! What a beautiful boy!”

Realizing he was going on, he apologized, but continued to praise his son’s down-to-earth personality and tremendous dedication. Chad won gold, but Bert has won a place in our hearts as the epitome of a proud papa.

John Orozco’s Mom & Dad, Damaris & William, Showing Support In Different Ways

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They say a picture is worth a thousand words and this picture of Damaris and William Orozco at the 2012 London Olympics is certainly an entire epic. Damaris — flag in hair, barely able to watch — and William — binoculars in tow — are proof that opposite fan styles attract.

Damaris sadly died in 2015. When John made Team USA in 2016, he told NBC’s Andrea Joyce that he knew his mom was looking down on him and proud.

Laurie Hernandez’s Family, Including Mom Wanda and Dad Anthony, Crying Along With Her

Laurie Hernandez was part of the Women’s Gymnastics Team dubbed one of the “Final Five” at the 2016 Rio Olympics when they won the All-Around at the games. Watching their daughter, Wanda and Anthony, along with son, Marcus, cried.

“Look, she’s crying!” Wanda said through happy tears. Repeating it as the family embraced. Even though Laurie wasn’t in the huddle with them, it felt like a unified family moment.

Sha’Carri Richardson’s Grandma, Betty Harp, Hugging Her After She Qualified

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Even though we (very sadly) won’t be seeing Sha’Carri Richardson at the Tokyo Olympics this year, her qualifying run, and the sweet moment she had with her grandmother* was one for the books. After revealing that her biological mother had died just a week before, the exhausted but elated embrace between the two women became even more poignant.

*OK, not technically a parent, we know, but we’re counting it!

We are so excited to ugly cry at the heartwarming, heartbreaking, and hilarious moments sure to come in Tokyo!