We often talk about sports like they're just games. And they are games. But for world-class athletes, like those vying to compete in the Olympics and Paralympics this summer, they're also a job-one that involves hours of training and travel that takes them away from their families.
In other words, they're working parents, just like many of us. So when they're not breaking a sweat and winning medals, too, they're making dinners, helping with homework, and changing diapers. And they've probably done more of that than ever over the last 16 months as COVID-19 forced the postponement 2020 Olympics and Paralympic Games to 2021.
This year, it looks like they'll finally get a chance to compete. But whether they take gold or not or even make the team, these four athletes are already winners in their kids' eyes. As we celebrate Father's Day and look toward the Olympics and Paralympics, let's hear it for these Gold-medal dads.
Even during a difficult year, Brady Ellison had plenty of reasons to be thankful. He and his wife, Toja, welcomed their first son, Ty, to the world in mid-November. Little Ty will grow up with a straight-shooting Dad who loves to make biscuits and gravy and has already overcome tall odds to get to the top of his sport. The three-time Olympian had Perthes disease, which affects the hip joint, as a child and wore leg braces for more than a year. After celebrating his first Father's Day, Ellison will look to have another first: He's won two silvers and one bronze at the Olympics but is searching for his first-ever gold.
Sport: Track & Field
Jarryd Wallace will get to enjoy his second Father's Day with his son, Levi, before trying for his third Paralympic Games. The track & field star came in fifth in the 100-meters at the 2016 Games in Rio and placed sixth in the Paralympic Games in London. When he's not doing Daddy duties or competing, Wallace, who had his leg amputated below the knee after complications from surgery in 2010, coaches others through amputation and recovery at Shamrock Prosthetics.
Oz Sanchez is also celebrating his first Father's Day-he and his wife welcomed a son, Benicio, on September 15. But though he may be new to fatherhood, Sanchez is no stranger to the Paralympic podium. Sanchez has won six medals in three Games, including two gold. Before becoming one of the world's top hand cyclists, Sanchez spent six years in the Marine Corps and was deployed twice to the Middle East. He was in an accident that injured his spinal cord in 2001.
Sport: Wheelchair Rugby
This Dad of three and eight-time captain of the U.S. rugby national team could compete in his second Paralympic Games this year. Joe Delagrave helped Team USA win bronze in the 2012 Games in London. But he didn't make the team in 2016-a script he hopes to flip this year. He most recently was part of the 2018 national team that won bronze at the World Championships.
To learn more about all the Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, visit TeamUSA.org. Watch the Tokyo Olympics beginning July 23rd and the Tokyo Paralympics beginning August 24 on NBC.