By definition, Olympic athletes are extraordinary human beings — literally at the top of their game.
With that in mind, here’s a look at just 9 American Olympians who are just as worthy of recognition.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) August 16, 2016
While any member of Team U.S.A. proudly represents our country, Sam Kendricks is one of just 19 that are representing America “on two fronts” — as a soldier and an athlete.
Even among this patriotic group, however, Army Reserve 2nd Lieutenant Kendricks stands out. As of now, he’s the only soldier-athlete who’s medaled in Rio, snagging the bronze in the men’s pole vault on Monday — the first the U.S. has earned a medal in the event in 12 years.
After winning bronze on Friday, Kim Rhode is the first American to medal in 6 different Olympics. http://pic.twitter.com/s7UiRrIHz2
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 15, 2016
Kim Rhode has become the picture of the unsung athlete in the 2016 Olympics.
Amid a heated and divisive presidential election cycle, Rhode is a woman that stands out: a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment and described as “decidedly pro-Donald Trump.”
As an athlete, her prowess is undeniable. Rhode has medaled in 6 consecutive Olympic Games, the first female (and Summer) Olympian to do so.
— Geoff Coyle (@GFCoyle) August 16, 2016
Like Rhode, Thrasher is another member of the U.S. Shooting team who’s more than deserving of attention.
The 19-year-old Virginia native is often described as “bubbly” — not exactly the kind of person that immediately comes to mind when one pictures a gun enthusiast.
She not only won the gold medal in the 10m air rifle competition, but took home the first gold for the U.S. of the entire 2016 Games. What’s more, she reportedly only learned to shoot 5 years ago, when she first asked her dad to take her deer hunting.
She may have earned some additional recognition this year for schooling Matthew McConaughey in how to grapple on NBC’s late-night Olympic coverage, but Jillion Potter’s personal story almost defies belief.
Part of the Team U.S.A.’s first-ever Olympic rugby tournament, Potter has first-hand knowledge of the sport’s physicality, breaking her neck in a 2010 game that reportedly almost left her paralyzed.
Diagnosed with cancer four years later, Potter just underwent her last chemo treatment in March of 2015. Even that couldn’t keep her down, though — just half a year later, she qualified for the Olympic rugby team.
— U.S. Olympic Team (@TeamUSA) August 11, 2016
At nearly 53 years old, Phillip Dutton is more than 4 times the age of some of his fellow Olympic athletes.
For Dutton, though — who is America’s oldest 2016 Olympian — that clearly doesn’t matter much, as he earned his first-ever medal for the U.S. in equestrian this year.
Still, it isn’t his first Olympic victory. Dutton took home gold for his birth-country of Australia in 2000 and 2004, and didn’t become an American citizen until 2006.
Wow!! Olympic Bronze Medalist. Thank you for the ❤️. ???????????????????????? http://pic.twitter.com/v8wA7iBfqw
— emma coburn (@emmajcoburn) August 15, 2016
In a Games that often seems dominated by American female athletes, Emma Coburn has carved out a niche all of her own.
Not only did Coburn set the U.S. record in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, she’ll also be bringing home the only medal America has ever earned in the event.
“Daddy, I got you.” – Michelle Carter, who now has a gold medal in shotput to best her dad’s silver. ???? http://bit.ly/2bzwmN8
— Victoria Aveyard (@VictoriaAveyard) August 15, 2016
Not many would consider the shot put to be an easy event, but for Michelle Carter, it runs in the family.
The athlete — the first American woman to earn gold in the event with her record-setting performance — took bragging rights over her father Michael on Friday, who earned his silver medal in the 1984 Games.
The duo became Team U.S.A.’s first father-daughter combo to medal in Olympic Games. The elder Carter still has his own edge, though: he also won three Super Bowl rings during his career with the San Francisco 49ers.
— U.S. Olympic Team (@TeamUSA) August 17, 2016
A sport that has been dominated by Kenyans for decades, the U.S. hasn’t earned a medal in the steeplechase since 1984.
Until Evan Jager came along, that is. On Wednesday afternoon, Jager — sporting his signature man-bun — took silver in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. He was second only to Kenya’s Conseslus Kipruto, who set an Olympic record with his victory.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 17, 2016
On Tuesday, 29-year-old Jenny Simpson became a part of American history with her bronze in the 1500-meter.
In crossing the finish line, Simpson earned the title of the first-ever U.S. woman to earn a medal in the running event.
With competitors like these representing the red, white, and blue, it’s no mystery why the U.S. has dominated the medal count in Rio.
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