The Summer Olympics aren’t coming to Reddit. They’ve already arrived.
The social news site has played host to eight Olympic-themed live interviews (“ask me anything” or AMA threads) over the past year. Redditors have commiserated with an Olympic gymnast who dislocated his knee and ended up watching his team from his couch, chatted with the strongest woman in America about her struggle to break past the poverty line, and learned the scatological realities of Olympic swimming.
With the Olympics mere hours away, we thought you might want to whet your appetite with these stellar AMAs.
Remember: These are just highlights. Make sure to click through and read the full interviews. To jump to the quoted comments, click on the individual Reddit user name.
A Buzzfeed article about Sarah Robles’s (pictured above) struggles to earn a living really piqued Reddit’s interest and became a running theme for the discussion.
“When I was interviewed for this article, we talked for a long time about many things. I had no idea what angle she was going to take. I was living off of $400 a month. I was collecting food stamps. I struggled a lot during that time. I asked several companies to sponsor me. I didn't even ask for money. Just a few products that I used. I got some donations to tide me over through the Olympic Trials. I struggled at home and on the platform. To be MY best, I had to focus solely on training. I do feel as if the funding situation in our organization is unfair. I do feel as if my size/appearance could be a contributing factor in lack of sponsorships. Especially with supplement and apparel companies. Generally, I agree with the sentiment of the article.”
When it came to team events where more than one person got a medal for the same win (couples skating, hockey, curling, etc.), were the team medals the same, or were they still individual from one another. (kati8303)
“They were the same. For example, I held several of the Men's Hockey Gold medals as they were being processed. They just said "Men's Hockey". This was really special to me, especially when our boys won, because I knew I helped make one of the medals going into the hands of an NHL All-Star. Pretty cool stuff.”
After the poster pretty much abandoned this thread, it threatened to be a total dud. Thankfully, redditor tronk, another former Olympian, was lurking.
“When I was on the U.S. National Gymnastics in 2000, this is how I felt every morning after my morning strength practice. Up to 8 hours of training daily sucked, and everything hurt all the time. I left practice with ice on my shoulders, left elbow, both wrists, right knee, and both ankles every day.
“At the Olympic trials, on the final day, I was in sixth place when I messed up a tumbling pass on Floor Exercise. I dislocated my knee and split my kneecap in half. My coach went to Sydney without me. I watched my team compete from my couch where I was recovering from surgery.”
What was the most memorable thing that happened to you during your coaching? Has being a coach for the mentally handicapped dramatically changed your life? If so, how? (Zemblanity)
“I'd say the MOST memorable moment for me, was the first time I saw a group of athletes approach the podium to find out what they placed. EVERY single person congratulated each other like they had won first, there was zero bitterness, regret, or jealousy. It was amazing.
“I think it definitely has changed my life, the athletes have disabilities ranging from moderate to severe, and they all try SO hard and never give up what they love doing. The people I met were honestly the most pure, loving, giving group of people I've come across in my entire life.”
5) The last 3.5 years I have dedicated my mind and body to perform at its absolute best on one day, on a giant oval, for a little less than 4 minutes. There are 100 Days until the Olympic Trials and I'm an aspiring Olympian, AMA.
Professional runner David Torrence sure did try his best to make it to London, but he came up just a little short. His AMA, however, was a marathon, and a really good read.
Do you make enough/any money doing this? If not, do you have a day job? (rocklobster747)
“Although the Olympic Games is the pinnacle of my sport, there are still TONS of big races, series, and events every year. I make a good amount off of prize money, appearance money, and the most from my sponsor Nike. I am a full-time professional athlete, and live pretty comfortably right now. If I had a family, it might be a different story though.”
If you don't mind me asking (always preface personal financial questions with “If you don't mind me asking’” what was the largest sum of prize money you won for a single event? (rocklobster747)
“$14,000 at the US Road Mile Championships. $4000 for the win, and an additional $10,000 bonus for breaking 4min. At the time when I first one this race, I was unsponsored and had about 1.5 month's rent left in my bank account. I ran for the sake of my career that day, and man did that money come in huge. You can watch the race here.”
Are they super competitive with each other? How do you help them with a loss/disappointments? (Metals7)
“It can get really competitive, but so many of the same people compete year after year that everyone really becomes friends. We actually once had a problem with a girl who would throw the game when she had to play tennis against her friend because she didn't want to beat her.
“There's definitely disappointment when they lose, sometimes, but for a lot of them the awards are sort of a nice bonus more than something they're working towards.”
We conclude with the elucidating insights of a 17-year-old.
Have you ever farted during a competition? (CobraCommanderp)
“I’ve shit my suit in the middle of a race and practice, it's more common than you think.”
Photo via Sarah Robles/Twitter