Whenever I watch the Olympics I catch myself wondering if I could be friends with these athletes — if, you know, we met on the street, in the classroom, in some other setting.
Now, as closing ceremonies signal the end of 2012’s over two-week display of worldwide athletic greatness, I thought I’d share my informal list of “Olympic Athletes I Wish Were My Friends.” (please note: there’s an entire list I could make of athletes I would never befriend — if we’re being honest that’s namely Usain Bolt, Ryan Lochte, Aly Raisman, Michael Phelps and LeBron James).
How do I know I’d want to be friends with the following 4 women? Well, I don’t. I do know that based on interviews I’ve seen and the stories I’ve heard from their personal lives that I’d want to be their friend. Although, the fact that they all share signature star-power smiles doesn’t hurt either.
Without further ado:
1. Missy Franklin (swimming)
Her joy is positively contagious. Other adorably friendship-worthy things the 17-year-old 4-time gold-medalist has going for her? She’s lip-synched to Call Me Maybe, she’s forgoing nearly $2 mill to maintain her amateur status, even after her gold-medal glory — and she’s a hugger. I. Just. Love. Her.
2. Jordyn Wieber (women’s gymnastics)
She was the pre-2012 Olympics’ Gabby Douglas. I loved her before the games started because of this video, but what cemented Jordyn as one of my favorites was her stunned but gracious reaction to not qualifying for the all-around competition: she was all cheers, no sulking in the audience and in interviews for competing teammates Gabby and Aly. To me, that is beautiful. PS: her Tweets are all full of genuine praise for her teammates.
3. Allyson Felix (women’s 4×100 team)
She’s gorgeous, gracious — and after winning gold, she takes a moment to send God a prayer of thanks. Every interview with this girl, she was just well-spoken, humble, clearly driven and full of faith. I mean, she says after all this (“all this” being gold in the 200m, 4x100m and the 4x400m), her next goal is to be an elementary school teacher like her mother — since when do you hear a gold-medalist say that?
4. Misty May-Treanor (beach volleyball)
I think I’ve found a fellow introvert in Misty — next to the ever-expressive and emotional Kerri Walsh, Misty is always more stoic, totally focused. Plus, she’s married to a baseball player and knows when to step out of the spotlight. She’s got her three-peat gold medals in beach volleyball and says she’s now ready to take off the time to start a family.
Honorable Mention: Gabby Douglas (women’s gymnastics)
Oh, Gabby — I think I just love her smile. I love her innocence — and I think I’d just like hearing her squeal with delight at everything around her. There’s nothing more infectious than watching a 16-year-old see for the first time that the world is staring back at her with starry-eyes.
And then there’s LoLo Jones.
I want to say that I’d be quick friends with her — but she also seems to be such a trendy spotlight favorite. I admire her bravery in standing up for her faith and for being outspoken about her virginity. But after hearing USA teammates Dawn Harper (and Kellie Wells’s) rejoice in (finally) being recognized for their 100m hurdle Silver and Bronze (Jones did not podium) during a post-race interview, I realize how much Jones playing into her widespread publicity (mainly due to her beauty and outspoken beliefs) has overshadowed fellow great athletes.
And while it’s not her fault — I don’t blame her — it also makes me somewhat cautious that I’d befriend her.
PS: My favorite photo gallery of the Olympics: Olympic HUGS.