RIO DE JANEIRO — The Olympics do not suffer from being photographed too little. Nearly every move by nearly every Olympian is photographed, filmed, recorded or even memed, consumed by billions of fans across the world.
But another drama happens off camera, as the athletes’ parents — many of whom have spent years making all kinds of sacrifices for this moment to happen — watch their children perform on the biggest stage.
During the women’s team gymnastics competition on Tuesday, we turned some of our cameras around and focused on those parents.
The sequences below capture five American gymnasts — Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian and Aly Raisman — during their gold medal-winning performance alongside images of their parents, taken atabout the same time.
Madison Kocian, a bars specialist, performed one of the most difficult routines at the Games, and she nailed it. From start to finish, her father, Thomas, was a picture of intensity, rarely moving or smiling. But when Kocian landed her dismount, he burst to life, pumping his fist, high-fiving his son and waving a Madison-on-a-stick fan sign (really).
Missing from the stands but in the arena was Kocian’s mother, Cindy. She was in the arena but away from the action because it made her too nervous. “I’ll peek in when she goes, but I can’t sit here,” she said. “I can’t watch
The Raismans were clearly nervous watching their daughter perform
preliminary rounds of the competition here. It was more of the same
on Tuesday during Raisman’s nearly perfect routine on the balance
beam. Her mother, Lynn, appeared to spend much of the
competition with her head in her hands or swaying from side to side.
“I actually watched through my fingers,” she said.
Hernandez gave her typical charismatic performance, starting with a
wink for the crowd. Her father, Anthony, barely changed his facial
expressions for the duration of her performance, focusing intently on
his daughter. But when it was over, he was all smiles. “I’m ecstatic,”
he said. “I can’t believe this is happening. I mean, pinch me.”